Water companies credited for maintaining supplies in hottest summer since records began

The UK water companies undertook an extensive range of activities to ensure water resources in the long, hot summer of 2018 were successfully managed, according to a new analysis by Water UK.

Summer 2018 was the hottest in England since records began back in 1910. Rainfall across the whole of the country over the 3 months of May to July was only 54% of the long-term average, with even less falling in August – only 43% of the normal amount of rain for the month.

The dry summer put substantial pressures put on water supplies – however, the water companies successfully maintained supplies despite a substantial and prolonged in rise in demand for water, and without the need in England for hosepipe bans.

Summer also typically sees more bursts on network when the ground dries out and moves, causing pipes and joints to crack.

The briefing paper sets out the range of actions taken ahead of and during the summer to ensure customers got the water they needed and outlines the actions currently being taken over the autumn and winter to prepare for 2019.

At the peak of the heatwave, Southern Water put an extra 100 million litres of water a day above the normal into supply, while Severn Trent Water and Yorkshire Water put an extra 300 million litres in respectively. Thames Water put in an additional 450 million litres of water a day.

Water UK said the companies’ ability to meet substantial increase in demand reflected the following measures:

  • Forward planning
  • Operational actions
  • Investment

Commenting on investment, the paper says

“Much of the potential impact of the hot summer was avoided due to ongoing high levels of investment by the water industry” – currently running at around £8 billion per year.

Investment in grids enabled the water companies to move water around their networks to where it was needed most. Other actions included:

  • Bringing water sources online that were out of service
  • Accelerating capital work to bring sites which had been out of supply back into operation
  • Thames Water started up Beckton desalination plant – the plant is now undergoing maintenance to ensure it will be able to reliably sustain prolonged usage in event of prolonged drought next year.
  • Some companies put drought plans into action – but hosepipe bans were avoided

In addition, all the water companies promoted water efficiencies messages to their customers via social media, text messages and letters. The summer also saw significantly increased levels of media activities to get the message across via radio, TV, billboards, national and regional advertising and news roadshows

Increased activity to identify and fix leaks included using drones, satellite imaging, improved telemetry and acoustic logging leak detection technologies, and the deployment of extra repair teams on the ground.

Stress-testing for more extreme weather scenarios

For autumn 2018 and into the winter, the water companies have taken actions in three broad categories:

  • Planning ahead
  • Tackling leakage
  • Optimising asset reliability

Looking further ahead, they have also been working with the Environment Agency to consider the impacts of the reasonable worst-case scenario and stress-testing against more extreme rainfall scenarios.

The analysis says the water companies are continuing to assess critical asset maintenance to ensure facilities are available when needed – which could include deferring planned maintenance at key periods or developing new sources.


Work on Newtown’s £80 million bypass in final stages

Tarmac is down, road lines are being painted and Newtown’s bypass is starting to look the real deal, according to one of the town’s councillors.

Work is now into the final stages for the bypass, which has cost more than £80 million and will see congestion issues that have blighted the Newtown area for decades banished.

Work began in March 2016, and now pictures captured by county councillor Joy Jones show tarmac down on almost every section of the route, and line markings and signs in place.

She was given a tour of the route last week and said excitement is now growing ahead of a big opening next year.

She said: “It is getting there and is getting closer and closer.

“It is really going to make such a difference, and now more than ever is looking the part, I would give it a ten out of ten.”


“People are going to be able to get around the town so much easier, but on the flip side they will be able to come into the town quicker because of reduced congestion,” Councillor Jones said.

“Work is still going on, not just on the final parts of the roads, but on all the trees and wildlife around the edges.

“It is a really exciting time now with everything getting closer.”

There is still some work to do on the Dolfor Road bridge, which is the biggest structure on the route.

Last month transport minister Ken Skates said contractors Alun Griffiths are on track to be finish on time.

Councillor Jones said that was providing that the weather remains good for the workers in the final few months.

She said: “Hopefully the weather remains good to the contractors now.

“It is a real piece of history and we are seeing the final pieces now being put together.

“Even after next year the contractors will be remaining on the site to plant all the trees, and monitor all the surrounding areas.”

For more articles like this, please Visit Highways Industry News website.

Pothole patching continues as Herts County Council gears up for winter

Hertfordshire’s roads are being prepared for the worst of the winter with a programme of patching and resurfacing.

After harsh weather last year, when routes were badly affected by repeated freezing, the county council’s highways team have fixed almost 24,000 potholes so far this year.

By the end of October, contractors had:

• Fixed 23,802 potholes;

• Jet-patched 36,000 sq m of road to fix smaller problems and prevent potholes forming;

• Given 1,000 sections of road a new surface.

More maintenance and repair work was being carried out during November and December.

Cllr Phil Bibby, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “We know that the state of the county’s roads really matters to our residents, and this work will improve road surfaces and help stop potholes forming if we get freezing weather again this winter.

“Our engineers and contractors have done a great job fixing potholes since last winter, but the priority for us is to prevent them forming in the first place.

“We’re investing nearly £40m in maintaining and improving our highways network this financial year, and while we can’t do everything, this preventative work, along with other resurfacing and the regular repairs we do, will make a real difference to the condition of roads across the county.”

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.

Multi-million pound plans to put an end to ‘horrendous’ traffic jams in Blyth

Northumberland County Council is pushing ahead with plans for a multi-million pound relief road to ease traffic congestion in Blyth.

The proposals are set to go out for consultation early next year and with potential funding opportunities already identified, construction could begin as early as 2020.

A report to councillors explained that “a strong positive business case for the scheme” has been demonstrated and that funding could be available, primarily through the Transport for the North.

From an initial assessment of five route options, there are three which have been subject to a detailed economic appraisal to weigh up the benefits and risks.

These are a new link road from Princess Louise Road to the A192/A189 Three Horseshoes interchange (route 3), a link road from Plessey Road to the Three Horseshoes interchange (route 4) or dualling the existing A1061 Laverock Hall route (route 5).

A new internal north-south route, which could potentially reduce congestion on the A193 Rotary Way, was also put forward to be included in the study.

A Northumberland County Council map showing options for a Blyth relief road (Image: Copyright Unknown)

A Northumberland County Council map showing options for a Blyth relief road

The study concluded that while route 3 provided the greatest benefit, it also has high levels of risk to deliver it, while route 5 has the lowest risk but also the lowest benefit-to-cost ratio, while still being classed as high value for money.

The indicative costs range from £19.7m for route 3 to £24m for route 5.

The £24.1m north-south route provides an opportunity to create an arterial route in addition to the existing A193 Rotary Way and would support both routes 3 and 5.

As part of the proposals, the potential for the council to take control of the land of the former railway running from Newsham to Albion Way/Dene View Drive is being considered.

The disused line has long been the subject of fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour, but could be included in some form in the plans.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, the council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “Blyth was a forgotten town under the previous Labour council, a poor relation to Ashington and we will not allow that to continue.

“We put this scheme to Government last year and have been discussing the potential for funding in the time since. There is a keenness to see it realised and we will do everything we can to attract the money necessary to make it a reality.”

As part of the draft Northumberland Economic Strategy 2019-24, which was approved by the cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, members agreed to release £95,000 from the council’s reserves for the next steps.

This would cover the costs of consultation in January and February, finalising the scheme appraisal and then assessing the environmental impacts in the build-up to deciding a preferred route.

Coun Wearmouth added: “This should take away some of the inhibitors to people investing in Blyth, which they see at the moment when it’s just gridlock.”

Currently, the A193 Cowpen Road and A1061 Laverock Hall Road are each used by 20,000 vehicles a day and ‘suffer from congestion during peak periods’.

Conservative campaigner in the town, Ian Levy, said: “This is great news for Blyth. Traffic jams in our town are horrendous at times. This scheme has the potential to finally put things right while also giving Blyth a big economic boost.”

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.

Pioneering UV tech to tackle microorganisms in water wins United Utilities innovation contract

A fledgling Cumbrian company whose innovative technology with the potential to be up to 90% more energy efficient which could help slash the cost of water treatment worldwide has won its first major contract with United Utilities.

Penrith-based Typhon Treatment Systems’ new ultraviolet (UV) LED water treatment technology is one of the first systems in the world capable of using UV from LEDs to neutralise harmful microorganisms on an industrial scale. Other LED UV treatment systems are currently only effective at treating small amounts of water for very low flows or personal use.

North West water firm United Utilities uses UV in its drinking water treatment process to remove microorganisms or to remove earthy smells caused by algae. It also uses UV treatment in separate installations to treat bacteria in wastewater before returning it to the environment.

Potential to be up to 90% more energy efficient

Head of Innovation, Kieran Brocklebank commented:

“Until now the only way of using it to treat the huge volumes we need has been using traditional technology that uses mercury in glass bulbs. But with the potential to be up to 90% more energy efficient, as well as more reliable, easier to maintain and safer, Typhon’s new LED version was a brilliant idea we wanted to develop.”

Typhon’s long term contract with United Utilities follows the world’s first large scale operational trial of the technology at the water firm’s Cumwhinton Water Treatment Works, near Carlisle, where Typhon built a test LED UV reactor.

The two companies have been working together on the technology since its potential came to light as part of a worldwide tech talent trawl United Utilities launched in 2017.

Typhon was among seven finalists in United Utilities’ Innovation Lab – giving them access to the water giant’s huge wealth of data, systems and expert knowledge to incubate their ideas and help bring their idea to market.

Director of Water and Scientific Services, Dr Martin Padley added:

“We really believed in this technology and we’ve helped Typhon prove it works for the water industry. It’s great to have signed a long term contract which means we can use this novel kit in our next five year investment period not just to treat drinking water more reliably and at lower cost for our customers, but also potentially to treat some of the cleaned wastewater we return to the environment as well.”

Typhon is now hoping to market the product worldwide as a unique, cost-effective, low maintenance UV water treatment, which could eventually render traditional lamps, based on mercury, obsolete.

Welcoming the contract Typhon Treatment Systems’ managing director Matt Simpson said:

“We can’t overstate the importance of UU’s support to the development of our technology. This first commercial contract is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from our team and theirs. We look forward to continued cooperation with UU. We do have plans to apply this technology worldwide.”


£600k boost will help tackle Southend’s most serious potholes

The most serious potholes in Southend are set to finally be repaired thanks to a Government cash boost.

Extra cash was set aside by the Government to be sent to local authorities to be used to clear any delayed road maintenance work.

Southend Council was awarded £617,000, which it will use to fill the borough’s most serious potholes, give the High Street a mini-makeover, and resurface Western Esplanade and Leather Lane.

Andrew Moring, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “I’m really pleased the Government recognised the need for this financial boost to clear the backlog of identified highway maintenance issues.

“As the majority of the money we have been allocated will go towards repairing the most serious potholes, hopefully drivers in the borough will soon see an improvement to local roads.”

The repairs will take place across the whole of the borough and come after a programme of work between March and June this year to catch up on a backlog of repairs delayed by the snow and cold weather last winter.

Earlier this year, the council allocated an additional £100,000 to fund two rapid pothole repair teams.

That cash was in addition to the authority’s agreed £102,000 budget for road repairs, and £195,000 for pothole repairs over the next three years.

As part of the plans, High Street will also benefit from a mini-makeover between January and March 2019.

The pavements between Southend Victoria and Pier Head have already been assessed, with problems identified, such as damaged or missing slabs, signs and posts.

Some of the slabs will be replaced.

James Courtenay, Southend Council’s cabinet member for growth, said: “It is great news, especially following on from the concentrated effort taking place between us and our partners to improve and regenerate our High Street.

“As well as the health and safety implications of having missing or damaged pavement slabs, signs and posts, there is the aesthetic look and feel of the High Street.

“If an area is well looked after and taken care of, it encourages those who use it to also take care of it.

“Let’s hope this work will also make people think twice about littering and behaving in an anti-social way.”

Alison Dewey, Southend Business Improvement District (BID) Manager, added: “It is great news to hear that the council is investing this money to improve the town centre’s street scene.

“I am particularly pleased to hear that there’s going to be a full repair of the paving and that it will be sealed, as this will help to prevent any staining from spillages that can seep into the flagging and leave a permanent mark.

“The work will help to give the High Street a much cleaner appearance.”

She added: “The BID currently funds various streetscape improvements, such as the hanging baskets, colourful bunting and banners, so the council’s new investment will complement our initiatives to make the town centre and seafront look brighter, cleaner and more welcoming.”

In total, £400,000 will be spent on repairing potholes, £117,000 will be spent on repairing the paving slabs, signs and posts in High Street and £100,000 will be spent on resurfacing Western Esplanade and Leather Lane.

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry news website.

Anaerobic digestion trade body recruits Chair to drive growth of green gas

The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), the UK’s leading trade body for anaerobic digestion (AD),  has announced that it is recruiting a new Chair to lead the association into its second decade.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of ADBA,  announced at the ADBA National Conference 2018 this morning that on its tenth anniversary, ADBA will create a new role of Chair to lead the association into its second decade, supported by ADBA’s Advisory Board and the executive team.

The new appointment is aimed at helping ADBA to drive the growth of an industry that can reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by close to 5%, improve its energy and food security, and create tens of thousands of jobs throughout the UK, with opportunities to export into a global market estimated to have a £1 trillion market potential.

The new Chair will be responsible for leading the association’s strategy, developing its business plan, representing the association at the highest levels, and engaging with ADBA’s members. The chosen candidate is likely to be a high-profile figure with extensive experience in the AD sector and with exciting and deliverable ideas for ensuring the UK AD industry can grow to meet its full potential.

Recruitment for the role will kick off in earnest in the New Year, with a view to the new Chair being in place by the time the association celebrates its tenth anniversary in autumn 2019. Interested candidates should contact Ms Morton in the first instance.

Once the Chair is in place, Ms Morton will continue on ADBA’s Advisory Board and in her associated role of Chief Executive of We Are Orchard, the company that has been providing association management services to ADBA (as well as other green sector trade associations including the World Biogas Association) for the past three years.

In this role, Ms Morton will be responsible for the delivery of the new ADBA Chair’s strategy and business plan. The operation and administration of ADBA will otherwise remain unchanged.

Speaking at the opening of the ADBA National Conference 2018 in Westminster today, Ms Morton said:

“As ADBA prepares to celebrate ten successful years of supporting the growth of the UK’s AD industry and helping to decarbonise the UK economy, the aim is for the new Chair to be in place to take forward ADBA’s exciting vision for its second decade, which will see the industry build on its success to date and grow to meet its exceptional potential.

“ADBA’s new Chair will be responsible for developing and taking forward the association’s vision, strategy, and business plan and will be a high-profile figurehead for the industry. They will work closely with our members, the Advisory Board, and all key stakeholders to create an exciting new chapter in the story of this vital technology and grow ADBA’s membership to build on existing opportunities both here in the UK and abroad.

“With so much uncertainty as a result of Brexit and a changing political landscape, it’s vital that ADBA stays one step ahead of the game to ensure that we put the AD industry in the best possible position to meet its full potential over the coming years. With the support of ADBA’s Advisory Board, the new Chair will help take the association and the industry to a new level, and will take forward our focus on benchmarking excellence, which started last year with the launch of the AD Certification Scheme.”

The UK AD industry has the potential to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 5% (helping to decarbonise heat, transport, and agriculture), meet 30% of domestic energy demand, and help restore soils through the spreading to land of natural fertiliser from the AD process.

There are hopes that a possible commitment to universal food waste collections in the forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy and increased support for on-farm AD on the back of the government’s changes to farming support will allow more organic wastes to be sent for recycling through AD over the coming years.

Founded in 2009, ADBA currently has over 400 members including AD operators, equipment suppliers, finance specialists, farmers, academics, waste management companies and gas distribution networks.

Milestone for A585 bypass plan

A congestion-busting new dual carriageway between Windy Harbour and Skippool near Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire is a step closer after the Planning Inspectorate agreed to examine Highways England’s plans.

The £100 million proposal – to bypass the existing A585 – is being proposed as part of the Government’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy (RIS). The Planning Inspectorate will now scrutinise the idea and invite formal public responses before letting the Secretary of State decide if the new road can be built.

A plan of the proposed bypass south of the existing road

A plan of the proposed bypass south of the existing road

Highways England project manager David Hopkin said:

“We are delighted the Planning Inspectorate has accepted what is effectively a planning application for the bypass we adopted as our preferred option last year and have since refined in response to further public feedback in a statutory consultation in the spring.

“Almost everyone in the area agrees that something needs to be done about congestion along this section of the A585 – and the new road will help secure and improve opportunities for housing and jobs in this part of Lancashire and contribute to improved connections to the whole of the motorway network.”

The Planning Inspectorate’s involvement marks the penultimate formal milestone in the life of the project before construction can start before the end of March 2020 – subject to the green light from the Secretary of State.

An aerial view of the proposed Poulton junction of the new A585 bypass - with a roundabout idea now replaced by traffic lights

An aerial view of the proposed Poulton junction of the new A585 bypass – with a roundabout idea now replaced by traffic lights

The 2.7 mile Windy Harbour to Skippool section is one of the busiest and most congested along the 11.5 mile road which links Fleetwood to the M55. The Shard and Little Singleton junctions are particular congestion bottlenecks.

Since being unveiled as the preferred route in October of last year the southern bypass proposal has been refined in response to public feedback – with a signalised junction replacing a roundabout at the western, Poulton end of the new bypass and a proposed Grange Road junction removed.

Full project details are available on a dedicated project webpage atwww.highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/a585-windy-harbour-to-skippool/

Thames Water will fund £60m of green infrastructure to tackle climate change and flood risk

Thames Water will partner with stakeholders and local authorities to fund £60 million of surface water management (SWM) schemes including green spaces, removing hard, impermeable surfaces such as concrete and asphalt in areas most at risk of flooding.

The project will create more sustainable solutions across 65 hectares of land in total to reduce the amount of rain and flood water entering the company’s vast sewer network, and counter flooding in urban areas.

Reducing the volume of water entering the sewers also provides greater capacity in the network to support future population increases in London and the Thames Valley, which is growing at twice the average of the rest of the country.

The initiative is a feature of Thames Water’s recently published £11.7 billion business plan for 2020-25, with £1.1 billion assigned to activities that will protect and enhance the environment.

Tim Beech, Thames Water infrastructure planning manager, commented:

“The climate is changing and, with our population expected to rise, flooding and rainwater during intense storms is an issue we need to tackle now to protect our communities in the future.

“We’ve launched a fund to deliver schemes with the potential to drastically reduce the impact surface water has on our sewers.

“Green infrastructure can be installed in almost any urban environment and the wider benefits are hugely valuable, as the spaces for our communities will provide attractive and natural areas for leisure and recreation.”

During periods of heavy rainfall, some sewers can reach capacity due to the amount of water suddenly entering them. The expected initiatives will mimic natural water systems and create sustainable drainage so rainfall is absorbed by the ground or channelled into green storage such as ponds where it can slowly soak away.

In addition to alleviating flood risk, green spaces deliver improvements in biodiversity and provide amenities for the community – with associated positive impacts on mental and physical health. The public spaces are expected to range from rainwater gardens, wetlands, green roofs and living walls.

The work builds on existing initiatives from the Thames’ “Twenty 4 Twenty” scheme, which is on track to remove 20 hectares of impermeable surfaces. One such scheme is at Queen Caroline’s Estate, London, where several sustainable drainage schemes were delivered through the Climate Proofing Housing Estates programme, diverting 1.2m litres of rainwater every year.


Alongside community initiatives, Thames Water also plans to implement sustainable drainage measures for households, developing an innovative planter which collects rainfall from the drain pipe before slowly releasing it back into the sewers.

The planter, which helps free up capacity in the network during high rainfall, is designed to be used in residential gardens, with excess water also captured for future uses such as watering the garden.

Thames Water’s newly launched SWM programme will fund work with stakeholders and local authorities with priority given to major schemes in areas most at risk of flooding. However, local authorities across the Thames Water network will have the opportunity to partner with the company.


Government gives £4m to tackle local pothole problem

Roads in North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset are set to benefit from an additional £3.4million investment in 2019 to tackle potholes.

The allocation of the additional funding from the Department for Transport was announced in the controversial autumn budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced he was allocating £420m to tackle the pothole epidemic in the country £20 million more than was being allocated to schools to buy “the little extras they need”. The allocation of such a substantial sum to road maintenance, surpassing the extra investments in counter-terrorism policing (£160 million), schools (£400 million) and mental health support for military veterans (£10million) has led to critics dubbing the Chancellor Pothole Phil.

Following the announcement that an extra £420million would be added to the existing national pothole fund of almost £300million it was revealed that the South West would be receiving £71.9 million of the investment into repairs. £1,671,000 of that sum has been allocated to Bath & North East Somerset, whilst North Somerset is set to receive £1,779,000 and Somerset Authority which includes the Mendip district is to receive one of the biggest amounts of £9,980,000 to spend across its five non-unitary districts.

Roads Minister Jesse Noman who revealed how the government pothole fund would be allocated said:

“Potholes are a huge problem for all road users, and too often we see issues occurring at the same place time after time.

“That is why the Government is investing more in improving our roads than at any time before – £15 billion between 2015 and 2020 and a further £28.8 billion to 2025. Plus an immediate extra £420 million for potholes and local road maintenance just this year.”

The announcement was welcomed by the local councils who have been facing funding shortages for many of their services. North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, whose portfolio includes highways and transport says the £1.8m allocation is more than double the amount the council received last year.

“This is recognition by the government of the challenges that councils are facing in maintaining their highways networks,” said Cllr Ap Rees

The money has been allocated by government using the highways maintenance funding formula and Cllr Ap Rees added: “We will now sit down with officers to look at our highways programme to see where this money can be best spent to continue our investment programme in our roads.”

The results from a roads condition survey released by the Department for Transport earlier this year found that North Somerset had some of the best-condition roads in the UK. The council has adopted a ‘whole-life’ proactive approach to roads to make sure that, wherever possible, preventative work is carried out to extend the life of road surfaces before more costly repairs are needed. The council also carries out high quality, urgent repairs on potholes across the area, operating on a’‘fix it once, fix it well’ basis.

Whilst Cllr AP Rees has welcomed the increase in funding, according to reports in the Weston Mercury and North Somerset Times he has also conceded that the council ‘could do with more’ to tackle the problem. A statement echoed nationally by pothole experts.

As early as March, Rick Green, the Asphalt Industry Alliance chairman said a local authority survey indicated “more than £8bn would be needed to carry out a one-time catch up to bring local roads in England up to scratch.”

Whilst the RAC claimed that the number of drivers breaking down after hitting potholes had reached a three-year high.

In May 2014 the Gazette reported on the number of potholes peppering the roads in B&NES. With it being revealed that the council had to repair more than 2,000 potholes in the space of four months, from November 2013- February 2014. Whilst last year a Freedom of Information request by the Bath Chronicle revealed that in the past five years there had been 551 pothole-related compensation claims made to the council due to the poor road surfaces in the region. 225 of these claims were successful in receiving compensation. Now with this additional funding it is hoped the number of claims will reduce.

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry news website.