Members of UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) have decided on the next round of research priorities for the organisation and are inviting expressions of interest (EoI) from expert partners and consortiums.
UKWIR facilitates the shaping of the water industry’s research agenda, developing research programmes, procuring and managing the research, and disseminating findings. Between December 2022 and January 2023, its members, comprising the water companies of the UK and Ireland, voted to decide which projects to deliver in the coming months.
The nine projects selected fall under four of UKWIR’s big questions which are focussed on tackling challenges facing the water sector. They include projects related to carbon reduction, drinking water compliance, wastewater services and pipe performance.
UKWIR is now seeking EoI from parties able to deliver this research, including collaborations between utilities, consultancies, contractors and technology companies. EoI are open until 23 Mar 2023.
Projects related to carbon
EoI are now open on projects related to big question 10 on how to remove more carbon than emission by 2050. These include greenhouse gas (GHG) estimation and reporting tools for 2024; wastewater treatment works process emissions; optimisation of current processes to reduce GHG emissions; nature-based solutions and their carbon footprint; and supporting evidence and data of whole-life carbon reduction practices.
The primary outcomes from these projects will include cross-cutting of low carbon and sustainable water cycle management; the process of minimised emissions through prevention, optimisation or capture; investment and procurement of minimised emissions in materials, consumables, products and services; and credible offsets.
The GHG estimation and reporting tools for 2024 project will provide an updated carbon accounting workbook (CAW), to be used for annual accounting in the FY2023-2024. A parallel but separate calculation tool will be developed so water companies can report to statutory body Ofwat against their common performance commitment for operational GHG emissions in the regulatory asset management plan for 2020-2025.
This is a new performance commitment and does not yet have a finalised scope or agreed calculation, but will need a common methodology and supporting tool to ensure undemanding and consistent reporting is possible.
Drinking water compliance
EoI are also open on projects related to big question four, which is about ways to achieve 100% compliance with drinking water standards, at point of use, by 2050. These feature update of current knowledge of threats and mitigations in horizon scan; and efficient algae removal during the water treatment process.
The primary outcomes will include an appropriate balance of risks for substances of concern, assessment of the public health impact and necessary mitigations, as well as ensuring customers are satisfied with their drinking water.
EoIs are also open for three projects relating to wastewater services map to big questions five and six.
Big question five focuses on how to deliver an environmentally sustainable wastewater service that meets customer and regulator expectations by 2050, which includes source and pathway control of non-sanitary pollutants and alternative permitting approaches.
Big question six is about answering how to achieve zero uncontrolled discharges from sewers by 2050, featuring industry alignment on storm overflow data.
The primary outcomes from these projects will include monitoring sewers to enable proactive intervention and sufficient resources for incidents; achieving net positive natural capital; net zero carbon and minimal waste; and providing an efficient service.
UKWIR has also issued a call for EoI for the development of a pipe asset performance register. The aim of this project is to build a new database to replace the current UKWIR National Failure Database (NFD), which holds attribute and failure data for both water mains and sewers.
The NFD remains a resource for UK and Irish water industries as it contains up to 30 years of asset failure data, for asset planning and forecasting. The primary objective of this project is to create a new user-friendly database to replace the existing NFD. EoIs for this project must be submitted by 10 Mar 2023.