Wastewater Innovation Forum
MINUTES of the 70th Forum meeting of 14th October 2020
Please note that for older reports some links will be to sites that are no longer active.
|Oliver Grievson (OG) - Technical Secretary
||FWR/Z-Tech Control Systems
|Gordon Jones (GJ)
||Foundation for Water Research
|Steve Palmer (SP)
|Darragh Hobbs (DH)
|Richard Cherry (RC)
||AJ Tensile Fabrications
|Lila Thompson (presentation only)
|James Leverton (presentation only)
|Amir Cahn (presentation only)
Barrie Howe (BH), Alice Horton (AH), Ana Soares (AS), Steve Bungay (SB)
||Welcome & Introductions
||Minutes of the 69th meeting held on 24th June 2020
Reviews of Current Knowledge
Future article proposals
Website & Social Media
||Areas of Knowledge Focus
Chemical Investigations Programme
||Other areas of research
Anaerobic Water Treatment
||Sharing information about other member’s research areas
||Any other business
Date of next meeting
||Presentation by Lila Thompson – British Water
||Presentation by James Leverton - AECOM
||Presentation by Amir Cahn - SWAN Forum
- Welcome & Introductions
Everyone who attended the online meeting introduced themselves to the assembled members. The attendance list was as above. Darragh Hobbs was welcomed to the meeting as a new member
- Minutes of the Last Meeting
The minutes of the last meeting were reviewed and accepted
- Agenda Items
Areas of Knowledge Focus
- Reviews of Current Knowledge (ROCKs)
A Review of Current Knowledge on the Circular Economy is going through editing at the current time and should be published soon.
- Latest Newsletter
The latest newsletter was cancelled as it was delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The next newsleter should be published soon and will include an article on wastewater based epidemiology.
- Future Article Proposals
Future article proposals are welcome.
- Website & Social Media
It was reported that, despite the Coronavirus pandemic, the volume of traffic to the Foundation for Water Research website is remaining steady at around 50,000 hits per month; the UPM Manual accounts for 1000 of these hits. There has been an increase in engagement through LinkedIn following efforts by Oliver Grievson to push this area and the engagement rate has significantly increased as has the followers of the Foundation for Water Research through this social media route.
Other areas of research
There was not a huge amount to report in this area this month apart from the fact that the delays to the start of the Chemical Investigations Programme has now been overcome and progress is being made in this area although results are not expected for quite awhile.
AH (pre-meeting note) reported that her work involved as part of the UKWIR study on microplastics is being shared via an academic paper that is currently going through peer review.
- Anti-microbial resistance
As per Microplastics there is some work going on within the Chemical Investigations Programme on Anti-microbial resistance.
There were no updates in this area at this meeting.
- Wastewater-based epidemiology
There was an update on this area by Barrie Howe prior to the meeting as he was unable to attend. The initial WBE studies have been promising and it has been expanded to over 100 sites. There is a large amount of work to be done and the Environment Agency, Water Companies and the Office for National Statistics is working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre. There is a lot of value in this work and there is collaborative work going on between the EA, the ONS and medical professionals too. This work is looking at demographics as well and is proving to be useful.
It was noted that this work is significantly behind the work that is being seen around the world including the work that is being done in the Netherlands, Spain, USA, South Africa and Australia. There is quite a lot of work being done by Isle Utilities and the Water Action Programme in disseminating the information that is available around the world in this area and it is worth joining the Water Action Platform for free for a lot more information in this area.
- Wastewater re-use
OG raised the issue that the subject of direct wastewater reuse has come up in a long conversation with Terry Fuller of CIWEM after enquiries by Lord Deben. This was a point for information only but the main area of discussion was around the economics of reuse from a water company perspective and the fact that it has to be financially viable. This normally requires the customer of the reuse to be nearby to make the concept financially viable. This is also something that most of the water & sewerage companies have looked into and some are doing in someways. There is also some effluent resuse for direct supply by some industrial water users.
It is a common thing in other countries around the world where there is a water resource issue.
Despite this the major barrier to wastewater resuse is the public perception, including religious acceptance.
Roundtable discussions of members areas of research
- Circular Economy
The circular economy ROCK is currently being edited and hopes to be published soon. There are some key points that can be made including the use of nature-based solutions in projects to make marginal gains in projects
Discussions of the use of resource recovery from wastewater not only being based upon biosolids and energy recovery but also on plastics and bio-fuels along with other potential energy recovery techniques.
- Digital Transformation
OG noted that the International Water Association has published a white paper on artificial intelligence in the Digital Transformation of the Water Industry (click here) and will shortly be publishing an article on Instrumentation in Digital Transformation written by OG.
Any Other Business
- Internal markets
This is going to be a key area within water companies in AMP7 especially around biosolids and the energy recovery. In this the water company is controlling both supply and demand.
- Wastewater BS/CEN Standards
OG discussed the progress of the Wastewater BS/CEN Standard for ICA and highlighted that this has gone to internal review and is expected to be published by the middle of next year. The Storm Water standard is slightly behind this and hopefully will be available by the end of next year. This is particularly relevant as there has been a release of a Private Members bill in the Houses of Parliament on Storm Overflows.
- Carbon Zero
Hydrogen as a future fuel was discussed considering the increase in technology availability in this area and the drive towards Zero Carbon. The discussion was around the fact that it is not possible to reach net zero carbon with the current fuel consumption rates which will drive towards the use of hydrogen as a fuel.
The carbon zero targets for water companies are going relatively well especially around the production of electricity. The water companies have benefited from the decline of coal as a major power source which has effectively reduced the carbon impact of operations. However, this will bring more prominence in fugitive emissions from large wastewater treatment plant operations. This is especially the case around both methane and nitrous oxide emissions and their greenhouse gas impact. It was noted the work that the Danish have done in this area in nitrous oxide monitoring and control, a further explanation in this area is available in the recent webinar on ASP control with special reference to the presentation by Mikkel Holmen Andersen.
It was noted that there have been several ill-informed articles in the national press recently about both storm overflows and plastics within sludge
It was also noted that Lord Deben has recently spoken to CIWEM (who have consulted with OG) about bioresources and sludge. If any members want to help CIWEM then they should get in touch with the CIWEM policy department. There was also a discussion about direct wastewater reuse and why this isn’t more widely done within the UK.
In terms of wastewater pollution a private members bill was raised on the day of the meeting around pollution to the environment which was on top of a number of areas:-
There is a barrier to the innovation around the way contracts are structured in the market at the moment and there is a resistance to take on novel approaches, this is mainly due to education and knowledge within the industry due to a poor understanding of the risks. This drives companies towards the traditional solutions where the risks are either not properly understood and as such the risk is under-costed. This makes any novel solution too costly to take on and thus novel applications aren’t adopted as much as they should do.
- There is an increased number of Environmental Information Requests being seen in some companies due to the increased public focus.
- The water companies’ performance in terms of pollutions to the environment has recently been criticised in the environmental performance report.
- The Water Minister has sat down with the CEOs of the water companies about environmental performance.
- There does seem to be a need for public information as there is some poor understanding on what both the Environment Agency and the Water Companies are already doing and this message is not being highlighted sufficiently enough. Despite this, with the DEFRA storm overflow task force being set up, the need around the speed of what is being delivered could arguably need to be accelerated. However, this comes at a cost.
OG is to send a Doodle Poll to the members of the panel to agree on a date for the next meeting.
Presentation No.1 on AMP7 and the innovation landscape
Lila Thompson – British Water
To start the presentations we had Lila Thompson of British Water talking about the work that they do across the water industry and focussing on the recent release of the joint Water Industry Innovation strategies that have largely been built upon UKWIRs Big Questions and the OFWAT Innovation Competition that has a focus on SMEs with a smaller section of the competition as well as a much larger competition involving the water companies themselves.
The Innovation Strategy published by the Water Companies is available publicly on a dedicated website .
Presentation No.2 on the Use of BIM in the Water Industry
James Leverton - AECOM
The second presentation of the day was by James Leverton who is the Digital Solutions Lead at AECOM. James explained what BIM means for the water industry and what the applications that are available for the technology that forms part of the Digital Transformation of the Water Industry.
BIM is a derivation of Building Information Management which is in wide use in other industries but it has significantly changed over the years. Laser scanning and 3D Autocad has significantly helped the water industry through the construction process and this covers up to 3 dimensions as in the diagram below.
BIM takes the industry past this point and enables a digital reconstruction of the plant throughout the construction and operation enabling improvements in design and more value engineering to take place within the project. This can then act as both a construction and operational Digital Twin to be used.
Presentation No.3 on Data as a Service on the Water Industry
Amir Cahn – SWAN Forum.
The final presentation of the panel was by Amir Cahn, the Executive Director of the Smart Water Networks (SWAN) Forum. In his spare time Amir is doing a PhD on the use of Data as a Service within the Global Water Industry. Amir presented some of the preliminary results from his global survey of both companies and end users. Amir explained the differing “Data as a Service (DaaS)” business models that are in use within the industry ranging from a basic “maintenance as a service” model which is relatively common although not consider as a DaaS model to a full infrastructure Data as a Service model. Amir discussed the barriers to the approach and why end users have adopted it versus those that don’t with the majority of the reasons behind not adopting is the fact that users already have a solution in place.
Recording of the Meeting
See the video of all of the presentations