A sustainable water industry?

Posted: Wednesday 14th November 2007

Existing regulatory framework in the water industry is too conservative and old fashioned. We need an environmentally aware, climate change adapted approach to water regulation.

If the water industry and its supporting organisations are to become more energy efficient and emit less carbon dioxide, a holistic catchment based approach is needed, with self monitoring, balanced risks and a closer, more mature relationship between regulators and the water industry. The industry should move more towards being a service industry rather than a commercial provider of water and wastewater management.

These are the findings of the ‘A Sustainable Water Industry?’ sessions at CIWEM’s Global Environment conference, chaired by Ian Kirkaldy, Director of Water Europe at Black & Veatch and Charles Ainger, Sustainable Development Director at MWH.

Speakers such as Ed Bramley from Yorkshire Water, Bruce Horton from Water UK, Claire Barnett from Entec and Colin Cumming from MWH highlighted the need for a model based on sound science, environmental and social understanding, transparent quality monitoring systems, trust and earned autonomy. The new regulatory approach would operate on a catchment basis, rather than the many individual consents which are over performing and detrimental in terms of cost and carbon dioxide emissions.

Charles Ainger says: “Many speakers said that we must work better together, and we must not miss the AMP5 opportunity. We need to start some catchment-based pilot projects now in AMP4, to learn how to change behaviour and collaborate better, in time for AMP5.”

They also identified that to achieve this goal, we must not rely solely on technofix solutions and we must address the unsustainable demands made by the consumers.

Nick Reeves, CIWEM Executive Director, says: “With the challenge of water scarcity and growing demand, the need for a modern climate change adapted approach to the water industry has never been more timely or more urgent. We need a modern, mature and efficient model of regulation.”

The outputs from the conference session will be taken forward at the forthcoming CIWEM conference, The PRO9 Price Review, which is on 29th November 2007.

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