Utilities are under increasing pressure to keep changing the laws and regulations that they must comply with. The additional pressure of the pandemic has also called for new approaches. Alexis de Kerchove, Market Manager for Water Utilities in Europe at Xylem, is investigating the solution to these challenges.
The need for UK water companies to keep pace with and comply with ever evolving guidelines is becoming increasingly complex – with an added question mark over post-Brexit regulations.
Not only does non-compliance affect the large number of customers who rely on utility companies for clean and safe water at a price they can afford, but violations can result in significant fines and the company’s reputation in the world Damage the eyes of the market and the customer.
What steps can utilities take closer to ensuring regulatory compliance and increasing ROI?
A new integrated approach – looking at the whole system, from clean water treatment to wastewater management – is central as digital tools are used to make the rules more intelligent. This holistic view can not only increase performance and resilience, it can also protect infrastructure and maximize profitability … and mean fewer penalties.
Clean water treatment
Water quality is a key challenge for utilities, but looking at the entire connected water cycle can open up new opportunities to ensure compliance: Monitoring solutions can, for example, improve resource management by providing information on the water quality in the reservoirs in order to reduce the costs of the downstream Water to optimize treatment.
Providing drinking water that complies with Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) regulations means managing rising operating costs while monitoring a growing watch list of pathogens and micropollutants, including pharmaceutical residues. A multi-barrier treatment solution can treat cloudiness, color, algae, pesticides, taste and odor, pathogens and other contaminants of concern as they arise. In combination with digital measuring devices for measuring the water quality, it can be ensured that all regulations are complied with.
The latest developments in UV and ozone treatment are of interest here and help to reduce the environmental impact by reducing the use of harmful chemicals. Ozone treatment works 3,000 times faster than chlorine-based products and is 50% stronger than oxidizing agents, while UV systems kill 99.99% of harmful microorganisms, which above all has no effect on taste and smell.
Clean water networks
Smart technology plays a valuable role in assessing the health of clean water networks and detecting leaks – an important step in meeting Ofwat’s requirement of 15 percent fewer leaks by 2025.
Customers (who are encouraged not to waste water themselves) are also pressuring utilities to improve service and fix leaks in an infrastructure that has in many cases seen better days, but without disrupting supplies and maintaining the Network printing.
Both real and apparent losses can be corrected by optimizing measurement technology to meet new regulations: identifying leaks where runoff and discharge values do not match and providing more accurate readings in buildings to avoid any commercial losses to correct what leads to an accuracy billing of consumers.
Today’s aging sewer networks also carry the risk of severe sanctions, especially if below-average pumping stations and outdated equipment do not meet the stringent standards required by today’s regulators.
More than ever, water companies are required to adhere to environmental quality standards, thanks in part to the Water Industry’s National Environment Program (WINEP) and the proposed initiative to extend bathing water quality measurements to rivers.
A central concern is that technical failures of the collection system or unforeseen wastewater overflows due to extreme flooding can impair surface water quality. The solution? Intelligent monitoring systems for continuous learning. These can provide data information to utilities leading to results to reduce spill and flood events by up to 30% per year.
The introduction of smart devices into 21st century wastewater treatment plants can help utilities reduce their environmental impact, comply with regulations, and protect their reputations without breaking the headlines.
Better control systems (like online sensors and digital solutions) allow operators to record every decision to maintain quality and provide the necessary evidence of a violation in real time – and enable a faster proactive response to the cause of a discharge. Such an audit trail, even when violations are unavoidable, can significantly reduce penalties.
This integrated approach brings the power of data to improve processes and create a more reliable, efficient treatment system, reduce energy consumption and avoid frequent discharges that can exceed standards.
Smooth sailing calms you down
Smart and certified water solutions and guidance from experts who are knowledgeable about regulatory compliance are key to minimizing violations and ensuring compliance. In addition, there is a reduced carbon footprint, cost savings and optimized processes at every step.
Digital tools like cloud analytics, powerful data modeling, and the Internet of Things can help shape the bigger picture. By considering the entire water cycle rather than isolating standalone functions, utilities can achieve several benefits – compliance is no longer an issue.