Anglian Water’s Direct of Asset Management Chris Newsome spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Water Group’s Innovation Reception  in Westminster this week. In this blog he gives a flavour of some of the new approaches we spoke to the attendees about, and our vision for the future of the water industry.

 

It goes without saying that water is the most precious natural resource; vital to life, key to a sustainable and vibrant economy, and essential for a flourishing environment.

The UK water sector faces an ever increasing number of challenges; climate change is driving more extreme and unpredictable weather, population growth is changing the landscape around us and placing increased demands on water resources, and customer expectations are forever growing as digital communications and new technologies allow people to access data whenever and wherever they like.

APPWG Water Innovation 2016 - House of Commons

APPWG Water Innovation 2016 – House of Commons

In each of these challenges we see an opportunity. An opportunity to innovate and collaborate with our alliances, suppliers and partners to determine better ways of working, as a business, and as an industry. Not just to tackle the challenges that we face directly, but to play our part in meeting shared objectives, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, many of which are relevant to our industry.

Innovation and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do at Anglian Water. These principles form the core pillars of our business culture. And when we talk about innovation, this is much more than just applied innovation; we also mean innovation through thought leadership and behaviour change, shaping the world around us to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

We have a dedicated innovation team who work to utilise equipment and technology to drive efficiency and improve processes. However, we’ve gone much further than this and have worked across our business, throughout our alliances and along our supply chain to embed innovation and collaboration as business as usual. In this environment, our employees are actively encouraged to work together to find new solutions, and our suppliers and delivery partners have goals written into their contracts to ensure innovation is delivered in the work they do on our behalf.

Only by taking this collaborative approach can we meet the ambitious targets we have set ourselves as a business; driving down carbon, increasing water efficiency, reducing leaks and tackling the risks of flooding and drought.

Anglian Water’s Shop Window project is bringing together industry experts, technology start-ups, academics and local communities to pioneer the very latest thinking to show what the water company of tomorrow might look like in 30-50 years.

For the first time, we are applying new solutions to our assets throughout the entire water cycle, as well as working with communities and local businesses to drive behaviour change and increase engagement. This union of hard and soft infrastructure is being aligned in a way never seen in the

APPWG Water Innovation 2016 - House of Commons

APPWG Water Innovation 2016 – House of Commons

water industry.

Nothing like this has ever been tried before in our industry and we are so very excited to be leading on this work. We believe the outputs will fundamentally change the way our company, and the wider sector, approaches holistic water management; improving resilience to flooding and drought, reducing the risk of pollution, cutting leaks, further reducing our carbon footprint; and increasing customer service and local engagement.

The Shop Window programme is founded on seven aspirational goals. One of the most challenging to meet will be reducing water use to just 80 litres per head per day. This goal is a prime example of where we will need to both engage with customers in new ways about the importance of water efficiency, as well as looking at innovative technical solutions to reduce demand from homes and new developments. Smart metering, behaviour change campaigns, gamification, and even architectural house design will be at the heart of achieving this goal.

Another goal very close to my heart is our ambition for the Shop Window to become carbon neutral.  We have already reduced embodied carbon by 75% at one of our new sites and we have further plans to trial a number of new materials and techniques to further decrease carbon going into 2017.

Whilst I’m proud of the innovative work that is being done throughout Anglian Water, I wanted us to go further. I wanted us to push ourselves, to strive to create a window to the future of the water industry, showcasing what can be achieved by open collaboration and what we will need to deliver in order to meet the challenges of the future.