Atkins UK and Europe appoints new chief

Atkins, has appointed former HS2 chief operating officer, Richard Robinson as chief executive officer (CEO) of its UK and Europe region, Robinson (pictured) will join Atkins on 4 November 2019. he succeeds Philip Hoare who was promoted to president of the company in May. Interim CEO during the recruitment of a UK and Europe chief, Mark Anderson, has returned to his role as UK and Europe finance director.

Environment Agency issues open consultation on the future of rivers

The Environment Agency has opened a six month consultation, open to all, on the future of rivers. Its Challenges and choices consultation seeks views on how river basin districts should be managed from 2021, when the current 2015 River Basin Management Plans are due to be updated. The agency said: “We urgently need to protect and improve our waters and find a better balance that meets the needs of people and nature.” It cited a huge range of interests which depend on rivers and the wider water environment, including health, development, industry, agriculture, the economy and wildlife. It pointed out: “The climate crisis and a growing population are adding to these pressures and without conce

Spills from overflows near 147,000

The Environment Agency has reported there were 146,930 storm spills in 2018, from 6,182 overflows, which averages to about 24 spills a year from each overflow. The data was contained in a wide ranging report detailing the agency’s regulatory activity. Other water related content included the following. For the financial year to the end of March 2019, seven of the nine water companies reported a Security of Supply Index (SoSI) score of 100, with the other two companies reporting a score of 98. For the period April 2017 to March 2018, total leakage increased from 2.4 million cubic metres to around 2.45 million cubic metres per day. Almost all companies reported higher than forecast leakage. Cu

Heavy downpours fail to wash away fears of drought in the South and East

The National Drought Group (NDG) reported has reported that water supply problems persist in the south and east of the country, despite the heavy rainfall over recent weeks. It said groundwater levels in the south and east remain well below normal for the time of year and river flows in the chalk-dominated areas of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire were likely to remain below normal unless sustained winter rainfall provides recovery to the groundwater. The Environment Agency, which chairs the NDG, said the ecology in some vulnerable chalk streams is being damaged, and longer stretches than normal are drying up and for longer periods of time. It warned: “Another d

Green groups claim Brexit Bill waters down environmental protection

Green groups have raised concerns over watered down environmental protections in prime minister Boris Johnson’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. For instance, chief executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link Richard Benwell called for amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to guarantee non-regression for the environment, and for clauses to provide for regulations as well as primary law, and obligations to enhance as well as to protect nature.

Isle Utilities' new European director targets innovation

Consultancy, Isle Utilities has appointed Matthew Stephenson as European director. Stephenson (pictured) joined Isle from Suez where he has held a number of directorships since 2012. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the water sector including 10 years with Bristol Water at Bristol Water, until 2010. Stephenson said his combination of water company and supplier side experience enables him to “understand the challenges such different organisations have in working together.” He will initially be “exploring new areas of opportunity, especially with industrial water users.” And Isle’s expansion beyond the water sector into energy and transport, he said, will enable it to “harness cross-s

Dublin boil notice after plant failure releases cryptospridium

Operational problems at the main water treatment works serving the Irish capital triggered a boil notice affecting over 600,000 people across the greater Dublin area last week. An inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the incident at the Leixlip water treatment plan revealed a technical malfunction which meant the barrier against cryptosporidium and giardia parasites was compromised for 14 hours. The boil notices lasted four days and covered much of the capital and its hinterland. The EPA said the incident resulted in a "significant risk to the safety of the water supply", and highlighted that staff failed to respond to multiple alarms. Meanwhile, in a separate dev

Balmforth to lead safety review on Whaley Bridge reservoir

The government has announced Professor David Balmforth will lead the independent review into the Toddbrook reservoir incident called for in September, and published the terms of reference setting out the scope of the review. Balmforth is a former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers and will report back to the government by the end of the year. The review will scrutinise the events that took place in Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire in August when high water levels damaged the spillway of Toddbrook reservoir (owned by the Canal and River Trust) and led to the evacuation of local residents. It will also consider what lessons can be learned by the wider industry to ensure ongoing reservo

Liberal Democrats appoint Angela Smith to shadow international development post

Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, has appointed co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Water Group Angela Smith MP (pictured) as the new shadow secretary of state for international development. The news came as part of a wider announcement from Swinson about the expansion of her party’s shadow cabinet. A number of top jobs were given to MPs like Smith who have recently joined the party, with others including Chuka Umunna (foreign affairs and international trade) and Luciana Berger (health, wellbeing and social care).

Stanbrook takes retailer chair at Retailer Wholesaler Group

Richard Stanbrook has been appointed as the new retailer chair of the Retailer Wholesaler Group (RWG). Stanbrook (pictured) is a director at Pennon Water Services, which trades nationally under the Source for Business brand and under a series of regional brands in its home patches of the South West, Bournemouth, South Staffs and Cambridge. The RWG is led by trading parties and aims to tackle big issues and share good practice in the business water retail market. It has produced a series of highly regarded best practice guides. It is jointly chaired by a retailer and a wholesaler representative, each with a 12-month term of office.

Welsh government appoints new chair for Wales' water consumer watchdog

The Welsh government’s environment, energy and rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, has appointed Rhodri Williams as the new Wales chair at the Consumer Council for Water. Williams (pictured) is an experienced journalist who has worked in a wide range of executive and non-executive roles in the private and public sectors. He is currently a non-executive board member of broadcaster S4C. Previously, he was Ofcom’s first director in Wales, where he was instrumental in working with government at all levels to help ensure consumers in Wales, particularly in rural areas, received access to fast broadband speeds and mobile telephony services. Williams said he would ensure that "customers in Wa

CCW chief, Tony Smith to retire June 2020

Tony Smith has announced he will retire from his position of chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) next June. Smith (pictured) has led CCW since it was formed in 2005, and in total has worked in the utilities and infrastructure sectors for almost 30 years. He commented: “The timing of my departure will allow us to complete the 2019 price review and enable our new chair, Rob Light, to fully take up the reins and recruit a new chief executive to take our organisation forward.” Smith said it had been a “fantastic privilege” to create CCW with his team and the wider water industry, and “to transform the extent to which customers drive this industry”. He continued: “Since we wer

Ofwat consults on separate price control for Portsmouth's planned reservoir

Ofwat is consulting on changes to Portsmouth Water’s licence to accommodate a separate price control for the Havant Thicket winter storage reservoir. This new development will provide a cross border supply to Southern Water. The regulator has decided a separate control is the most appropriate route (over direct procurement of dealing with the development as part of Portsmouth’s wholesale control) to limit the revenue that Portsmouth Water can recover from its customers in relation to the construction and operation of the reservoir, and to set out the treatment of associated revenues from the bulk supply charges levied on Southern Water. The proposed modifications, out for consultation until

Castle seeks protection against waning wholesaler credit

Castle Water last week submitted an urgent change proposal (CPW079) to the business retail market panel concerning credit security obligations for retailers, in light of the prospect of reduced wholesaler credit ratings and increased credit risk. Castle argued a number of wholesalers have already publicly flagged that if their final PR19 determinations reflect their drafts, they will be unachievable. Moody’s has also recently highlighted average sector rating of Baa1 today could fall to Baa2, and that investment grade ratings could be at risk for some water companies. Castle said: “This raises the prospect of retailers being at risk for significant sums under the current credit support arran

Direct procurement projects to get interim determinations and incentives in PR19

Interim determinations will be used to deal with uncertainty, and an Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI) applied, to Direct Procurement for Customers (DPC) initiatives in AMP7. In a consultation, the regulator weighed up options for an uncertainty mechanism to cover a material change in circumstance (for example, a financial market disruption or a change in applicable legislation) following its PR19 final determinations (FDs), which would mean a scheme earmarked for DPC had in fact to be delivered by a traditional in-house route. Its preference is to use the interim determination mechanism because “we believe this provides stronger incentives for companies to manage costs and project risks, and

Scotland’s water sector co-creates vision with social purpose

The Scottish water sector has formally launched its new, shared vision, to be “admired for excellence, secure a sustainable future and inspire a Hydro Nation”. The vision was formed by Scottish Water, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, the Customer Forum, Citizen’s Advice Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Drinking Water Quality Regulator. This is the first time a common vision has been owned by all sector stakeholders and marks a new collaborative way of working between Scottish Water, its regulators and others. Speaking to THE WATER REPORT in September ahead of the launch, Scottish Water’s director of strategic customer service planning, Simon Parsons, ex

Water protection a “fundamental pillar” of Environment Bill

Abstraction reforms, bolstering Ofwat’s powers, long-term targets and joined up planning all featured in the water measures set out in the new Environment Bill, introduced by the government last week. An accompanying policy statement set out the key water measures, which it said were being introduced in light of climate change and more extreme weather patterns. Abstraction The Bill reforms elements of abstraction licensing to link it more tightly to the 25 Year Environment Plan goal of restoring water bodies to as close to natural state as possible. It enables the environmental regulator to propose the variation or revocation of abstraction licences without liability for compensation if they

Advert watchdog bans Andrex wet-wipe promotion in landmark flushability ruling

The water industry has welcomed a landmark ruling last week from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), banning a Kimberley-Clark web ad which claimed its Andrex Washlet wipes were flushable. The ASA ruled the ad broke guidelines by wrongly implying its wipes met a single national standard for flushability. While they met a standard set by manufacturers, Kimberley Clark admitted they did not meet Water UK’s Fine to Flush standard, and there was no indication any other standard existed in the ad. The ASA said: “We considered that in order to make an informed decision, it was material for consumers to know that another accreditation existed in relation to a product’s ‘flushability’, which

Ofwat to give companies space to step up on the social contract

Ofwat will give water companies space to deliver on its new strategic public purpose expectation – but will consider more assertive interventions if it is not satisfied with their efforts. Giving a Beesley lecture last week, Ofwat chief executive, Rachel Fletcher (pictured), said Ofwat will promote and support the social contract agenda, including through new incentives including potentially a streamlined price control process for those who are delivering well for society and the environment. But if progress isn’t fast enough, or not all 17 companies do enough: “Alternatives involve imposing an overarching public value licence condition on all companies. Or we could place a more formal ‘fit