Report No FR0159



Mar 1991



To assess the benefits of introducing BS5750 quality management systems in the operation of sewage treatment works.


Water undertakings are required to demonstrate to regulatory bodies that sewage treatment plants and their discharges are efficiently controlled. BS5750 quality management systems (QMS) offer the potential for improved consistency of working, reduction in operating costs and presentation of quality records to an internationally established standard.


Before any work on quality systems is begun, a process audit of each works should be initiated, and any significant operational problems dealt with.

Methods of control, for example instrumentation and sampling regimes, must facilitate rapid identification of operational problems and corrective action by operatives.

Introduction of a formalised QMS encourages the rationalisation and streamlining of existing practices and documentation.

The main problems arise in interfacing the QMS with these parts of the organisation not yet included within it; these have to be dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

Involvement of operations staff from the outset engenders a sense of professionalism and improves the effectiveness of implementation of the QMS.

A clear demonstration of cost savings and improved consistency of operation requires a more extended practical trial than has been possible within the timescale of this report, although the latest signals from the field sites remain positive.

It is essential for the success of any initiative in the field of BS5750 quality systems that a clear commitment is communicated by senior management to all involved.


The BS5750 systems so introduced should be continued for a period of at least one year and an estimate of financial benefits produced.

Consideration should then be given to introducing similar methods of working to other sites in accordance with the perceived value from the trial site initiatives. The merits of recognising accredited BS5750 management systems should be pursued with regulatory bodies such as the National Rivers Authority.


The practical application of QMS to sewage treatment operations has been demonstrated on two trials sites at Ashford and Charing, made available by Southern Water.

A process audit of both works was carried out before development of the QMS commenced; some minor modifications to plant and practice were implemented.

Following preparation of the necessary documentation (a divisional quality manual and an operational procedures manual for the two works), a programme of staff familiarisation and training was carried out. The effectiveness of operation of the QMS continues to be evaluated through a series of audits by Southern Water.


WRc gratefully acknowledges the enthusiastic co-operation of the management and staff at Ashford and the Kent Division Drainage Area of Southern Water.

Copies of the report are available from FWR, price 15.00, less 20% to FWR Members.