Welsh Water names contractors on renewable energy programme

Welsh Water has named HBS New Energies, Absolute Solar and Wind, Centrica and Anesco as the principal PV contractors to deliver phase 2 of its Glas Advantage Renewable Energy Programme.

The framework will see a combination of ground-mounted, floating and rooftop solar PV systems developed across 21 water and wastewater treatment sites, enabling the company to take a major step towards becoming a world-class, resilient and sustainable water service.

Welsh Water already boasts more than 6MW of solar assets across its portfolio of water treatment facilities but, with an annual energy consumption of 460GWh, its operations require vast amounts of electricity to provide critical water and wastewater services to its service network.

This second phase of solar projects is set to help Welsh Water press ahead with its ambitions to harness more solar power, providing significant inroads to achieving its 30 per cent onsite renewable energy generation target by the end of 2019.

HBS New Energies has been successful in securing two lots from a possible four on the two-year framework. With a total capacity of more than 3.4MWp, the roof- and ground-mounted solar projects will vary in size from 50 kWp up to 1MWp.

Earlier this year, HBS New Energies kickstarted Welsh Water’s latest solar programme, successfully completing phase 1 against tight deadlines and challenging weather conditions.

By retro-fitting a range of roof-integrated and fixed framework PV systems, HBS unlocked the value of unused roof space at five water and wastewater treatment sites. The solar panels are now helping to power the Welsh water utility’s operations with reliable and cost effective zero-carbon electricity.

Its team is now in the process of conducting in-depth feasibility, surveys and coordinating final system designs ready for submission. HBS will be managing every aspect of design, development, supply, construction and operation and maintenance of the solar PV installations.

James Bull, managing director at HBS New Energies, said: “Being appointed as one of Welsh Water’s strategic solar delivery partners is a great achievement for HBS and continues our strategy of working alongside forward-thinking UK water utilities.

“With firm aims to become more self-sufficient in its energy generation, this significant deployment of on-site solar projects will play a key role in helping Welsh Water take control of energy costs and move closer to achieving its carbon reduction target.

“We are looking forward to be partnering once again with Welsh Water and drive forward the next phase of this exciting solar programme.”



Water companies to plant 11 million new trees

Water companies in England have announced plans to plant 11 million trees as part of a wider commitment to improve the natural environment and achieve their goal of a carbon-neutral water industry by 2030.

The joint proposals will see trees planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England together with work to restore original woodland and improve natural habitats that themselves provide carbon capture.

While some of this land is owned by the water companies themselves, additional land will be provided by partners such as the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB.

Local partnerships with councils and regional NGOs will ensure that projects include urban tree planting, to bring much needed health and wellbeing benefits to communities in towns and cities.

In addition, The Woodland Trust has agreed to work with all the water companies to help identify sites and manage the planting programme once it is developed.

Many water companies already work with charities on habitat improvement and regional planting programmes but this initiative will see those local partnerships taken to a national level to ensure that the industry achieves its aims. Water companies will also look to join forces with existing initiatives such as the National Forest and Northern Forest.

The plan builds on a strong track record in habitat conservation and tree planting by the water industry.

For example, United Utilities has already planted around 800,000 trees since 2005 and is committed to a further 440,000 in the next five years, primarily across urban environments. Severn Trent has planted over 500,000 trees since 2015 and plans are in place for 250,000 trees to be planted in the next five years.

In addition, Anglian Water has plans to plant a million trees, hedging plants and shrubs in urban areas, as part of a 25-year initiative.

The companies, including the nine major water and sewerage providers in England, have committed to fully deliver the habitat improvement programme, which will include hedgerows and grasslands as well as trees. The scheme will provide ‘nature corridors’ to offer significant biodiversity benefits as different habitats are connected.

Companies are also committed to ensuring their plans align with government tree planting and habitat improvement programmes and has already had discussions with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, including through the Government Tree Champion Sir William Worsley.

The industry already has plans in place to plant the first 2.5 million of the 11 million trees. The next priority will be to identify additional sites across England that are appropriate for tree planting or habitat restoration.

“I welcome this pledge from England’s water companies, who have clearly seen the value in planting trees and acknowledged the vital role they will play in helping us to reach net zero emissions by 2050,” Sir William Worsley said.

“Trees are carbon sinks, provide crucial habitats for precious wildlife, mitigate flood risk and provide a valuable renewable resource in timber – and I encourage other industries to follow Water UK’s excellent example to ensure we boost planting rates across the country.”

Richard Flint, chief executive of Yorkshire Water, which are helping to coordinate the project, said: “As an industry, the water sector is committed to fighting climate change through becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

“Our ambitious pledge announced today will go a long way to meeting that target, and will also deliver greater biodiversity, improved water quality and better flood protection. In recent years water companies in England have made significant contributions towards tackling some of the greatest environmental challenges that we face, and today’s announcement is just the latest example of that commitment to the environment.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of Water UK, said: “Water companies play a unique role in running a vital public service and acting as long-term stewards of our natural environment.

“The trees they plant today will be a testament in years to come of the sector’s ground-breaking Public Interest Commitment, which goes beyond regulatory compliance and which, with the support of our partners, will deliver real social and environmental progress.”

John Tucker, director of woodland creation at The Woodland Trust, said: “The Woodland Trust is delighted to be working with water sector in this exciting initiative. Trees and woods in the right place can deliver a multitude of benefits and we urgently need a massive expansion in our tree cover if we are to adapt to future climate change.”

Peter Simpson, chief executive for Anglian Water said: “Much of our proposed planting will be with the purpose of allowing nature to help us do our job. Whether that be by building more treatment wetlands, or by using green spaces to manage urban flood risk in partnership with customers, local authorities and local charities.

“We take our commitment to the environment and the local communities we serve very seriously, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of the water industry’s environmental efforts. Eleven million trees is a significant commitment, and one which will really help to combat the huge challenges of climate change and flooding, as well as adding to the natural beauty of our region.

“We’ve been pushing for the water sector to reduce its carbon footprint for a number of years. This initiative is a clear signal of the whole industry’s intent to be running carbon neutral businesses by 2030.”

The plan also received support from Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole, who said: “Doubling the UK’s tree cover is crucial in the fight against climate breakdown, so it’s great to see this commitment coming from some of our biggest water companies.

“Large landholders, including water companies, have an opportunity and responsibility to use their land in the best way for the planet. We’re therefore challenging landowners everywhere to reintroduce trees and offering to help them on that journey.”

The Government’s committee on climate change aims to increase UK woodland coverage from 13 per cent of land to 17 per cent to help meet the target for ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.


Irish Water gets planning permission for Arklow WwTP

Irish Water has secured planning permission for the Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant in in County Wicklow.

The project will result in significant improvements to water quality in Arklow by ending the current practice of the discharge of raw sewage directly into the Avoca River, which is no longer acceptable.

With over 15,000 people set to be connected to the new treatment plant on completion, Irish Water said the project is important in terms of protecting the environment, facilitating economic development and providing for a growing population.

The Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant Project includes:

  • A new WwTP of 36,000 population equivalent that will best meet the current needs of Arklow, and allow for future expansion of the town. The preferred site is the Old Wallboard Factory, North Quay, Ferrybank
  • Sewer pipelines along the North and South Quays to bring the untreated wastewater to the WwTP
  • A marine outfall pipe to safely discharge the treated wastewater to the Irish Sea

John Joyce, infrastructure programme regional lead with Irish Water, said: “We welcome the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the proposed Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“Since Irish Water took over the responsibility for water and wastewater services in January 2014, addressing the need to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage into the River Avoca has been a top priority.

“The proposed new WwTP will have huge benefits for the residents and businesses in Arklow and the tourists that visit the area as it will improve the water quality in the River Avoca and enable future economic growth in the area. This project is critical in safeguarding the wastewater system in Arklow for the future.

“We have had extensive consultation with the community to date and are committed to working closely with all residents and stakeholders as we progress this significant infrastructure project with benefits for all.

“To date, raw sewage has been discharged directly into the Avoca. This project, on completion, will see significant improvements to water quality in Arklow, which is better for the environment and the local community. Over 15,000 people will be connected to the new scheme.”

Pat Casey, an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has been a Teachta Dála for the Wicklow constituency since 2016, said: “The process to get this plant has taken 30 years and I am delighted that it has reached this stage.

“The planning permission means that the wastewater treatment plant can proceed to commencement and the beginning of a massive growth potential for Arklow.

“As we all know Arklow has been discharging waste into the Avoca river in breach of EPA and EU regulations. The new high-tech wastewater treatment plant will provide the very latest in treatment technologies that will help to transform the town in positive ways.”


UK one of first countries in Europe to receive Google Flood Alerts

The UK has become one of the first countries in Europe where people will be able to receive flood alerts on their computer, phone or personal device through the Google Public Alerts map.

Residents at Whaley Bridge were just one of the communities that was able to access the Environment Agency’s flood warnings through Google for the first time this week.

Flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency will now appear on Google Search and the Google Public Alerts map with live alerts becoming visible on personal devices in a matter of seconds once they have been issued.

Announcing the launch of the new service, the Environment Agency said:

“This is another important step to help lower the number of people who are affected by the devastating consequences of flooding through early warnings and advice messaging.”

The Environment Agency has been working closely with Google for two years to design and implement the service in England.

Malte Will from the Social Impact Partnerships team at Google commented:

“We are very excited about the collaboration with the UK Environment Agency that will enable users to find authoritative information on severe weather conditions in real time.”

The service has already been rolled out in the USA, South America and parts of Asia to alert residents to environmental emergencies such as earthquakes, wildfires and extreme temperatures. The service has recently also gone live in Germany, where Google has collaborated with the German Met Office (DWD)

The Environment Agency already sends flood warnings and alerts to over 1.4 million properties in England which have signed up to a text, email and automated phone call service.

The environmental regulator said Google Public Alerts will give even greater access and visibility to the key public warning service through tens of millions of personal devices.

John Curtin, Executive Director of Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency said:

“This pioneering service will ensure that our live flood warnings and safety advice reaches even more people when it is most needed, giving UK residents access to the first service of this kind in Europe.

“We are always looking to find innovative ways to give people advance warning of potential flood risk so they can take action to keep themselves and their property safe. We will continue to work closely with Google to explore ways in which we can further develop this fundamental public warning service.”


Southern plans hosepipe bans as part of drought permit

Southern Water has said it will seek to reduce leakage and usage, including implementing hosepipe bans, if it succeeds in securing a drought permit to continue using the River Test in Hampshire.

In June, the company warned that flows in the Test were falling and said that, under new rules governing when it can take water out of the river to supply to customers, there was an increased risk of drought this summer.

Flows subsequently fell and Southern Water applied to the Environment Agency for a drought permit late last month that would permit the company to continue using the river if flows continued to fall.

At a hearing in Winchester on Tuesday 6 August, Timothy Comyn, a legal representative for Southern Water, said: “We are in a situation of an exceptional shortage of rainfall in the Southampton West area.”

Comyn said Southern Water, which recently announced an agreement with Portsmouth Water to take 15 million litres of water a day, is looking at other water resource options.

The company had previously announced that it was deploying extra teams and technology to tackle leaks, which has already resulted in a saving of 5 million litres a day in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight since February, as well as providing customers with water-efficiency devices.

It also plans to implement temporary use bans (TUBs) in certain areas.

Nigel Hepworth, water resources policy manager at Southern Water, said prior to the meeting: “Using a drought permit means that we must do everything in our power to reduce water use and so minimise the impact on the river’s precious and unique habitat.

“If the drought permit is granted we will be asking more of our customers by imposing TUBs in certain areas.

“If we do have to do this, it will be carried out in a phased way in specific areas which depend on the River Test for water and we’ll provide full details in advance.

“We understand this is disruptive and inconvenient but we’ve also seen our customers feedback that protecting the environment and the River Test is a priority for them too.”

Following the hearing, an Environment Agency spokesperson told the Daily Echo: “We are currently considering a drought permit application from Southern Water for the River Test.

“Although flows are currently at normal in the river for this time of year, Southern Water has applied for this drought permit so they are prepared if flows reduce.

“We will determine whether the permit will be granted by the end of August and we will continue to work with Southern Water as it develops its long-term water resource solutions that will protect this iconic river.”

Southern Water has announced a number of plans to contend with the water-stress challenge it faces, including working with Portsmouth Water on a £103 million winter storage reservoir in Havant and a number of water re-use and desalination options.


Anglian Water to start £5.4m project in Scunthorpe

Anglian Water will begin the installation of a new water main in Scunthorpe this month to support the growth of the new Lincolnshire Lakes development.

The new mains pipe, a result of a £5.4 million investment by the water company, will ensure a resilient water supply for the future amid increasing demand.

The work, which gets underway on Monday 19 August, will see over 13km of new pipe laid in the area, with work expected to be completed by July 2020.

David Hartley, Anglian Water spokesperson, said: “Operating in one of the fastest growing areas in the UK, this scheme will help to support future growth, ensuring we can maintain current water pressure to the area as the population grows in the Lincolnshire Lakes.

“This development is a significant one within the area of Scunthorpe and this work is just another example of our commitment to making sure that our network is fit to meet the demands of a growing population.”


South West Water launches Think Sink campaign

South West Water is launching a ‘Think Sink’ campaign for businesses to remind food service establishments of their responsibilities regarding the proper disposal of fat, oil, grease (FOG) and food waste.

Parts of North Devon, Exmouth, Plymouth and Truro have a history of sewer blockages and flooding. When disposed of via the sink, FOG and food waste can build up in pipes. This causes blockages and flooding, as well as attracting vermin such as rats.

Every year, tens of thousands of litres of waste fat, cooking oil and grease are poured down sinks by people who do not realise the problems this could cause.

In extreme cases, fat and oil can combine with other material to create fatbergs, as seen in Sidmouth when earlier this year workers spent eight weeks braving exceptionally challenging conditions to break up 64 metres of congealed fat, oil and wet wipes.

South West Water’s director of wastewater, Andrew Roantree, said: “Every year we deal with around 8,500 blocked sewers across our region, which costs about £4.5 million. This has an impact on bills, which we’re trying to keep as low as possible. Overall, we spend £35 million a year to maintain and upgrade the sewerage network.

“We’re doing our bit – and we’re seeking to enlist the help of businesses in the communities we serve. Our award-winning Love Your Loo and Think Sink campaigns have been encouraging household customers to play their part for several years.

“Over the next couple of months, specially trained South West Water advisors will be visiting hotels, restaurants, cafes and other food service establishments to provide advice on correct waste disposal and the simple changes they can make to help ‘stop the block’ in Devon and Cornwall.”


Efforts continue to prevent Whaley Bridge dam collapse in Derbyshire

Work has continued throughout the night to prevent the collapse of a dam wall holding backing water in Toddbrook Reservoir which is threatening to flood the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire.

A multi-agency taskforce – involving the Environment Agency, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, the Canal River Trust and many others, has been working on a plan to address the damage to the dam wall.

The plan to secure the dam wall is to:

  • Use 400 tonnes of aggregate to divert water from entering the reservoir and into other surrounding watercourses designed for this purpose.
  • Use water pumps to remove water from the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam wall.
  • Once the above measures reduce the water to a level that is safe – work will then begin on the dam wall itself.

Early this morning an RAF Chinook helicopter was brought in to drop 400 tonnes of aggregate on the surrounding watercourses which feed into it to shore up the damaged dam.

Pumps from fire services across the country are being used to pump out 7,000 litres of water a minute from the 300-million-gallon reservoir. Ten specialist high-volume pumping fire appliances along with specially-trained fire and rescue flood advisors have been brought into the area from around the UK, utilising fire service national co-ordination arrangements.

Further evacuations of residents have taken place downstream of the Toddbrook Reservoir as work continues to be done to ensure the structural integrity of the reservoir wall.

All residents in the area of Whaley Bridge that is at highest risk of flooding, should the reservoir give way, have been contacted by police officers and asked to leave their properties.

“Very real danger posed to people should the wall collapse

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann who is chair of the Local Resilience Forum said:

“Over the course of the day we have been dealing with an unprecedented incident at the Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge. As you will be aware, a wall of the reservoir has been badly damaged during recent heavy rain.

“Following an assessment by structural engineers the decision was taken to stop access to Whaley Bridge and evacuate parts of the village – along with further areas downstream.

“The response to this incident has come from far and wide. Emergency services from across Derbyshire, the region and across the country have provided support already and will continue to do so in the forthcoming hours and days.

“To move the substantial amount of aggregate into place – a Chinook helicopter will be operating in the area in the coming hours to allow precise placement and divert the flow of the water.

“With all that said, at this time the future of the dam wall remains in the balance and I would remind people of the very real danger posed to them should the wall collapse. I understand that being evacuated from your home is a very difficult decision and it is certainly not one that we make lightly.”

She added that while all the agencies are doing “everything humanly possible” to bring the incident to a conclusion, however, that timescale for when residents will be able to get back into their homes is currently unknown.


EA to use drones to detect illegal water abstractions

Drones will be used for the first time this summer to gather information about illegal abstraction in East Anglia’s fenland areas.

The Environment Agency manages abstraction to balance the needs of the environment with the rights of lawful water users during periods of dry weather.

The EA’s regulatory officers carry out high-visibility patrols every year throughout the irrigation season to ensure landowners and farmers are adhering to the conditions of their licences and do not cause harm to the environment.

Last year’s heatwave led to a number of licence holders breaching their conditions and this year some illegal abstractions have already been uncovered.

Andrew Chapman, environment planning specialist for the Environment Agency in East Anglia, said: “Following on from the hot and dry summer we experienced in 2018, our area has not received the winter rainfall we would normally expect and this is placing significant pressure on the water environment.

“We have contacted irrigators who have licences that permit abstraction from the Middle Level to inform them that restrictions are likely to be required during the irrigation season.

“We will be prioritising our water resources compliance work over the summer period in those catchments that are at risk from this prolonged dry period.

“This will be the first time we have ever used drones for this purpose. The majority of irrigators do operate within their licence conditions. However, last year a minority of farmers did not play by the rules and severely restricted other people’s ability to irrigate their crops.”

A third party will be employed to operate the drone, which connects to a web portal, so that an Environment Agency staff member can view the images from a computer and direct the device to fly over certain locations. If irrigators are found to be abstracting illegally, enforcement action will be taken. This can include written warnings, civil sanctions, referral to the Rural Payments Agency or prosecution.

Five new environment officers have been taken on this year to help manage the water resources issue. Their role includes identifying licence holders at risk of water restrictions and making them aware of the possible shortages.

They will also carry out inspections in the riskier catchments where more intense abstraction takes place. In the east of the region, the frequency of compliance checks and patrols is also increasing.

Michael Neale, Land and Water team leader in Essex, said: “We have an intelligence-led approach to all compliance checks. We will always respond to reports of illegal abstraction. We are going to up our response out of hours to reports wherever they come from. We will have more resources on hand to bolster our approach.”



Yorkshire Water appoints firms to £55m electrical high voltage framework

Yorkshire Water has announced details of the companies appointed to the frameworks for all its electrical high voltage works and maintenance services.

The arrangements are for a minimum of 4 years to February 2023, designed to support the remainder of AMP6 and AMP7 have a forecast value up to £55 million.

its high-voltage electrical design & build works and specialist studies services framework

The Scope includes professional services, consultancy, design, project management and delivery capability for the following Lots:

Lot 1: Design services for HV systems

Lot 2:  Design Fault and Protection Studies

Lot 3: In-house full Engineering remit for the delivery of HV and associated Works

Lot 4: Inspection and Maintenance of HV Equipment

The newly appointed parties are as follows:

HV Electrical Design & Build Works and Specialist Studies Services (Lots 1, 2 & 3):

  • Integrated Utility Services Limited (IUS)
  • Linbrooke Services Ltd
  • Smith Brothers (Contracting) Ltd
  • The Freedom Group of Companies Ltd

Inspection and Maintenance of HV Equipment (Lot 4):

  • Integrated Utility Services Limited (IUS)
  • Smith Brothers (Contracting) Ltd
  • The Freedom Group of Companies Ltd

All the companies were technically qualified and selected as the result of a full EU Procurement Process and the arrangements have been endorsed by Yorkshire Water’s Principal Electrical Engineer.

Martin Priestley, senior engineering project manager at Yorkshire Water, commented:

“We are confident that these appointments will contribute to the consistent and efficient provision of safe, quality, reliable assets that will in turn help us to ensure that we provide the level of service that our customers expect and value.”