World Health Organisation calls for more research on micro plastics

The World Health Organisation (WHO) called for urgent research into the health impacts of microplastics, as it released analysis of current data on micro plastics in drinking water, which it described as “extremely limited”. Dr Maria Neira, director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at WHO, said: “We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking-water. Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more.” According to the analysis: “Microplastics larger than 150 microme

Codes Panel voting mechanism altered to boost market change efficiency

The way in which proposed changes to the market codes are accepted or rejected by the Panel has been changed. On 23 August, Ofwat implemented a new voting mechanism. From now on, a "Simple Majority plus one" method will be used, meaning decisions will be passed if the majority of panel members, plus one, are in favour or against a proposal to amend either the Market Arrangements Code or the Wholesale Retail Code. Abstentions will not be counted as votes. This replaces the arrangements where either a unanimous decision or a ‘Qualifying Majority’ was needed to make a decision. A Qualifying Majority is defined as not less than ten out of up to 12 voting Panel members (excluding the chair). Ther

Company Monitoring Framework on hold as Ofwat evolves performance monitoring

Ofwat has said it will not publish further Company Monitoring Framework assessments because it is evolving its approach to performance monitoring. In an information notice (IN 19/04), Ofwat explained it plans to assess companies’ performance in the round, including financial and operational performance, company governance and culture. It said: “This will be an important element of our new strategy. We will continue to develop the framework for monitoring and assessing company performance through the launch of our new strategy in the autumn and beyond.” In the meantime, it will not publish further CMF assessments – a framework introduced in 2015 to encourage companies to conduct high quality

Water companies "well prepared" for no deal Brexit

The water sector is "well prepared as possible" for a no-deal Brexit according to a well-placed source. Companies have taken action to stockpile storable treatment chemicals.The most significant risk is a failure in the supply chain for chemicals with short shelf lives, but this is considered to be low. The sector came out well last week in the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer report which detailed the probable consequences of leaving the EU without an agreement. In contrast, the report warned of significant disruption to the supply of medicines, fuel and some fresh foods, as well as transport and travel chaos and public disorder. Former environment secretary, Michael Gove, now in

Moody’s downgrades SES Water outlook to negative after draft determination

Moody’s last week changed its outlook to negative from stable on SES Water, while affirming its Baa1 rating. The rating agency explained the downgrade was tied to Ofwat’s PR19 draft determination. SES will be exposed to a significant cut in allowed returns from 2020, and faces a total cost efficiency challenge of 18% which is above the sector average of 11%. The key differences between the company's plan and the regulator's efficient cost assessment are around enhancement expenditure and retail costs. Moody’s also pointed out it had factored in increased regulatory risk and SES Water’s financial policy as indicated in its business plan submission in September 2018. It said: “Specifically, th

McLaren switches from Castle Water to Business Stream as chief operating officer

Business Stream has appointed Douglas McLaren to the newly created role of chief operating officer (COO). McLaren (pictured) will join Business Stream on 30 August, from Castle Water where he was its COO. At Business Stream, he will be tasked with overseeing customer service, operations, people and development, IT and the company’s change programme. McLaren’s former roles include as UK operations director for Scottish Power Energy Retail and positions with PwC in Canada and Glasgow.

Lack of cross-border collaboration in river basin management poses global threat

River basins that cross international borders provide water to 40% of the global population but cooperation in water management is non-existent in more than 65% of them and in the rest it is “often ineffective”. These findings, reported in the Blue Peace Index developed by the The Economist Intelligence Unit, come as more than half the world’s population are heading for water-scarcity by 2050 according to the index. It calculated that 45% of the world’s global GDP and 40% of its grain production at risk could be at risk in 30 years. “There is a worrying absence of collaboration structures to govern these critical resources. A lack of co-operation can have considerable economic, social and e

Anglian and Northumbrian unveil partners for new innovation event

Anglian Water and Northumbrian Water subsidiary, Essex & Suffolk Water, have announced the organisations that will take part in their new, collaborative innovation event in Ipswich over three days in September. The headline sponsors at Innovate East are EWM (an alliance including Atos, Cognizant and Capgemini) and Mott Macdonald with confirmed partners including, Aiimi, BT, @one Alliance, Siemens, Sweco, Emcor, IBM, The Weather Company, Skanska, Xylem, Atkins, Barhale, IMGeospatial and Soarizon. Like Northumbrian’s established Innovation Festival, Innovate East will be based on teams working swiftly over the duration of the event using the Google “sprint” model and data analysis sessions (ha

Complaints spike puts CC Water service under pressure

A spike in complaints to the Consumer Council for Water – mostly relating to the business retail market – meant it struggled to meet its targets on closing complaints in 2018/19 – and for the first time in recent years. In its annual review for 2018-19 published last week, the water watchdog reported it had received 17% more complaints than the previous year. Household complaints were up 4%, but most of the increase concerned complaints from businesses. While CC Water beat its 99.5% target for complaint acknowledgement with five working days by 0.2%, it fell short of its 80% target to close complaints within 20 working days (achieving 76.4%) and its 91% target to close cases within 40 workin

Southern Water gets socially mobile

Southern Water last week signed the Social Mobility Pledge, a cross-party campaign which encourages businesses to help boost social mobility in the UK and promote talent from all backgrounds. As part of the pledge, Southern Water will partner with schools and colleges to help coach people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It will also offer work experience and adopt open employee recruitment practices, creating a level playing field for all young people. The Social Mobility Pledge was founded by former secretary of state for education, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP. She commented: ”It's great that Southern Water has signed the Pledge and by doing so they have committed to making a real difference

Welsh Water launches “no questions asked” pesticide disposal service

Welsh Water has launched a new service providing free and confidential pesticide disposal to protect drinking water quality. Farmers and land managers across Wales can register until 30 September for a first come, first served pesticide and herbicide disposal service, managing director of water services at Welsh Water,. Ian Christie, explained: “Our routine raw water monitoring programme has detected increasing traces of pesticides in areas we have never seen them before. While these levels are too low to pose a risk to those drinking the water, they are enough to risk breaching rigorous drinking water standards so we want to work with farmers, growers and land managers to take action to add

Analysis finds Thames’ investment was “crucial turning point” for river biodiversity

Thames Water’s investment in improved treatment to comply with the EU Urban Wastewater Directive has been identified by academics as “the crucial turning point” in the health of a Wiltshire river. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology analysed data from the regular monitoring of both chemicals and invertebrates in the River Ray in Wiltshire by the Environment Agency and its predecessors between 1977 and 2016. This Thames tributary is downstream from Swindon’s large wastewater treatment plant. The Defra-funded study found that, since 1991, there has been a steady increase in both the diversity and abundance of freshwater invertebrates, which play a vital and varied role in an ecosystem’s food

Water firms to plant 11m trees following government carbon pledge

Water companies in England have announced plans to plant 11 million trees, as part of a wider commitment to improve the natural environment and to support the industry’s Public Interest Commitment goal of achieving a carbon neutral water industry by 2030. Trees will be planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England. There will also be work to restore original woodland and improve natural habitats, which will include hedgerows and grasslands as well as trees. While some of this land is owned by the water companies themselves, additional land will be provided by partners such as local authorities, the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB. Local partnerships with councils a

Environment watchdog okays South West £350,000 payout to offset pollution hit

The Environment Agency has accepted a voluntary £350,000 payment by South West Water to charity the Westcountry Rivers Trust after pollution by the water firm in 2016 killed more than 100 brown trout in a Devon river. The so called Enforcement Undertaking payment, – an alternative to prosecution – will go to improvements to watercourses in the Plymouth area including the Tamerton stream where the fish deaths occurred. The pollution came from an overflowing sewer manhole on South West Water’s sewer network. The dead fish were found downstream near Tamerton Foliot, close to where the stream enters the Tavy estuary. The estuary is a Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and a Si

Take part in Waterwise research to define water use outside the home

Waterwise is researching how much personal water use takes place outside of the home. The water efficiency specialist wants to understand how many litres a day could be added to the usual standard measure of per capita consumption, which only measures water use at home, to describe total water use per person per day. It is looking for people to keep a diary of all the water they use outside the home for two weeks. If you can help, more information and the diary template can be found at https://www.waterwise.org.uk/your-water-diary-2019/

Water 71 secures retail licences

Water 71 last week secured water supply and sewerage licences from Ofwat to provide business retail services. The Cardiff-based company was incorporated in July 2018 and traded as Amber Water Solutions until a name change in May 2019.

Brighton Greens push for self supply on democratic ownership grounds

Green councillors in Brighton and Hove have put a proposal forward to the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee that the City Council should apply for water and wastewater self supply licences. This seems to be based on a belief that this would enable the council to “bypass profit making water companies”. Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who is proposing that the council explores the option to self-supply water, said: “It’s clear that water privatisation has failed us and our environment. Greens will continue to fight for an end to water privatisation – and while that fight goes on, we want to see residents given the democratic oversight over water they deserve. “Exploring the option to ‘sel

Nottingham Council starts self supply and launches water efficiency loan scheme…

Nottingham City Council is set to begin supplying its own water from this Wednesday. Earlier this year, the Council secured self supply licences from Ofwat. Its Energy Services team will take over from its current retailer on 14 August, and start buying water and wastewater services wholesale from Severn Trent. The council said its main aim is to reduce operating costs and increase resource efficiency. In addition, Energy Services is launching a Water Efficiency Loan Scheme (WELS) which aims to invest in water efficiency projects across the council’s buildings to further increase savings to the annual water spend, with an estimated saving of 10% a year. Nottingham will be the first council t

Scottish Water hits 99.9% compliance with drinking water quality standards

Scottish Water’s compliance with drinking water quality standards hit 99.9% in 2018, according the the latest annual report of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR). The report also highlighted that the number of water quality incidents requiring detailed investigation by the DWQR fell in 2018, “suggesting that Scottish Water’s efforts to improve is paying off”. Commenting on the publication, Sue Petch the Drinking Water Quality Regulator, said: “Scotland’s consumers can be reassured that the quality of drinking water supplied to their taps by Scottish Water continues to be high. In spite of this, further improvements are still needed. I expect Scottish Water to ensure water quality co