Anglian Water is the largest water and water recycling company by geography in England and Wales, an area known as East of England. Anglian Water serves more than six million customers and supplies one billion liters of water to its customers daily.
A key challenge for Anglian Water is that East of England is a water stressed area, receiving approximately the same rainfall as Jerusalem. It is also one of the fastest growing regions in the United Kingdom (UK), with population expected to increase by one million over the next 25 years. Adding to these issues is the fact that East of England supports large energy and agricultural operations, both of which use vast amounts of water. Energy companies in the region generate 20% of England’s power and agricultural producers grow 40% of England’s vegetables.
Despite all of these challenges, Anglian Water has reduced leakage by 20% since 2010 and established the lowest leakage level of any water company in the UK. To achieve this success, Anglian Water implemented a messaging campaign to customers regarding the importance of reducing consumption and worked with customers so that the majority of customers are now metered. These accomplishments are just the beginning of Anglian Water’s solutions to major challenges.
One of Anglian Water’s innovative strategies is the role out of a smart water system. Anglian Water developed and pioneered the Integrated Leakage and Pressure Management System (ILPM). This system allows the network to be viewed and managed by one simple platform in real time. ILPM is unique, using ultra sensitive sound detection via radio networks to detect failing assets before they become an acute problem. ILPM is a permanent network monitoring system, allowing leaks to be identified and fixed within 24 hours while avoiding common issues associated with other monitoring systems such as damage, theft and disruption. ILPM was tested in Newmarket, Suffolk where it achieved a 23% reduction in leakage since installation one year ago. The ILPM system is now being rolled out to the rest of the region and is expected to reduce leakage by more than 23% by 2025.
Anglian Water believes water resource challenges do not occur, nor can they be solved, in isolation. Therefore, in 2016, Anglian Water chaired The Water Resources Long Term Planning Framework, an effort that included representatives from the water and energy sectors, agriculture and the UK government.
The Framework’s mission was to look at the combined risk and economic impact of severe drought and climate change and establish a national resiliency network to address these issues. The Framework recommended both demand and supply side management strategies and identified opportunities to trade water across water company boundaries. Importantly, the Framework’s recommendations have been incorporated in the government’s long-term resiliency planning and provided guidance to all UK water companies.
One outcome of the Framework is Water Resources East (WRE), an innovative multi-sector, multi-stakeholder approach to managing water resources in East of England. This collaboration is intended to collectively meet the needs and build resilience strategies for four critical sectors including water, energy, agriculture and the environment. Some of the critical needs the WRE is addressing include larger reservoir storage capacity, a network of strategic transfers to move water across sectors and around the region, desalination capabilities and improved effluent reuse.
Sustainable financing must be secured as part of long-term resiliency planning. Water companies including Anglian Water must invest in operations and infrastructure to meet increasing customer expectations while keeping customer bills low. Green bonds are essential to achieving these goals. In July 2017 Anglian Water successfully launched the first Sterling Green Bond. The £250 million bond now is being used to fund innovative solutions like the largest state of the art filtration system in Europe, installed at Heighman Water treatment works, which supplies water for the city of Norwich.
Planning for a sustainable future requires both short and long-term goals. Anglian Water’s short-term goals include increasing use of smart metering to help customers keep track of water use and keep bills low, continuing to decrease leakage and ensuring that no customers are at risk of severe restrictions as a result of extreme drought. Anglian Water’s long-term goals include making East of England resilient to risks of drought and flooding, becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and helping to improve the environment across Anglian Water’s catchments. Anglian Water’s record of responsible, innovative solutions bodes well for East of England’s future.