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  • by Trevor Loveday

Northumbrian Water unveils early progress from Innovation Festival 2023

Northumbrian Water has unveiled developments five projects from its 2023 Innovation Festival which its claims have the potential to bring gains worth £170m to the water company in the next five years.


The projects emerged from design sprints at the festival held in July by Northumbrian in various partnerships.


The sprints and Northumbrian’s partners in them were:

  • Power arrangers with engineering giant Siemens;

  • Net zero me with energy supplier, Octopus Energy;

  • Save our sewers with software company Esri

  • Pump up the volume with consultancy, Jacobs; and

  • Dewatering the economy with water retailer, Wave Utilities.

Power arrangers

The Siemens partnership, has started a feasibility study to look at ways to make treatment sites more resilient to power outages through the creation of a “circular economy for renewable energy.”


Net zero me

The partnership with Octopus Energy’s technology arm, Kraken, is looking to develop a mobile app that tracks customers energy and water consumption and offers tips and tasks to reduce those bills.

Save our sewers

The tie up with Esri comprises four projects that could accelerate work that is already underway: removing highway drainage from the sewer network, creating an interactive network map, setting up a water “bank” that assists customers to manage their water that goes into the waste network and a project that seeks to ensure the network is fully used at all times.


Dewatering the economy

Northumbrian has combined forces with its water retail business joint venture with Anglian Water, in a bid to improve business customers’ awareness of their private networks and their responsibilities. Northumbrian estimates that the project will save some 165Ml a day.

During its attendance at the festival The Water Report discussed projects with the leaders of other sprints including:

  • Southern Water which led on exploring ways to inspire communities to see tackling leaks as a problem we are all responsible for solving;

  • tech services company Cognizant that led a sprint looking at providing advice to households on budgeting including how to access £19bn of benefits that go unclaimed every year;

  • consumer chemicals giant Proctor and Gamble which was investigating means to reduce the volume and pollutants in wastewater generated from laundry including helping users to change their behaviour;

  • industrial conglomerate Tata which headed up a bid to streamline service reservoir maintenance;

  • Galiford Try was investigating the economic and technical viability of using digital twin technology to optimise wastewater treatment processes and curb pollution;

  • Jacobs with the reins on a sprint seeking ways to deliver the £10bn a year demands of AMP8 with the best outcomes for the environment and customers;

  • Ordnance Survey taking up the challenges to existing thinking and utilising new data sources or ones already held to improve District Metered Area models; and

  • the Royal College of Arts drawing up ways that service providers could communicate better with their customers, especially those without access to digital channels?

The theme for 2023 festival was “Citizens.” Northumbrian Water’s chief information officer, Nigel Watson explained the meaning behind the title: “We all have to engage to help solve some of the problems organisations like ours face.” He said the theme was inspired by the book of the same title by John Alexander who was one of the day-opening speakers at the event.


Subscribers to The Water Report can see the interview with Northumbrian chief, Heidi Mottram, in the September 2023 issue.

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