LITSoN Review of innovation in UK water utilities

The need for innovation in the water sector to meet societal needs is widely accepted. The recent UK Water Partnership LITSoN pilot (Linking Innovation To Societal Needs) provides an overview of innovation in UK water utilities, demonstrating benefits in terms of increased innovation alignment, better market information and opportunities for capability development, ultimately contributing to economic growth.

Building on previous work, this pilot led by Mott MacDonald during Q1 2017, involved 22 organisations from across Government, academia, non-profits and businesses – including water utilities representing over 70% of the regulated market. Participants completed a brief survey to provide an overview of their research and innovation programme. Projects were self-assessed for their impact on 11 societal needs, their current stage of development, timescales for progress and the business demand for commercialisation. In total almost 400 projects were included, with data shared amongst all participants.

The results identify ‘Zero leakage’ and ‘Zero water poverty’ as areas of relative weakness, as well as identifying ‘innovation hotspots’ with opportunity for further collaboration and efficiency in smart infrastructure, leakage detection, energy recovery and metaldehyde – amongst others. The data collected also provide market information on high priorities and unmet needs, to support SMEs and the supply chain in identifying partners for their innovations.

Work is ongoing to collect further data and provide a comprehensive review of UK water utilities innovation, with potential to extend the pilot to include the wider water industry and assess UK performance on a global scale.

LITSoN Proof of Concept – Report

LITSoN – Linking Innovation to Societal Needs Pilot

The UK Water Partnership Takes Half Day Slot at World WaterTech 2017

The UK Water Partnership worked with Rethink Events to provide the content for the second morning of the 2017 World WaterTech Conference held in London on the 21st and 22nd February.

UKWP Chairman, The Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP, kicked off the second day of the conference with a Keynote Address entitled “Gearing Up for Global Markets- Opportunities for Fostering Innovation and Commercialisation of Water Technologies in the   UK “.

Director Mark Lane then chaired three discussion panels which addressed current developments in the UK to address the three topical  issues of ” Too Much Water “,  “Too Little Water “, and cracking ” the Commercialisation Conundrum “.

Mark Lane commented ” This year’s attendance at World WaterTech, at over 200 delegates, was a record number. I am delighted that we were able to showcase what The UK Water Partnership is all about in front of so many key players in the water technology sector, and from so many countries. Addressing societal needs through the development and commercialisation of new water technologies to deal with the key issues of Too Much Water, Too Little Water, and how to enable young start ups in the water technology space to overcome the obstacles on the road to commercial success are all matters of great importance. The UK Water Partnership catalysed the views of the programme speakers and conference delegates to produce some valuable insights into these three topics”.

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World Water-Tech Innovation Summit

World Water Week

Accelerating collaboration and commercialisation for climate resilient water management 

The 2017 World Water-Tech Innovation Summit focuses on accelerating the adoption of commercially viable technologies to build resilience and meet the demand for sustainable water supply. It is a truly international event focusing on current and emerging markets and will be held in partnership with the Department of International Trade (DIT) and the UK Water Partnership.

Our Chairman Richard Benyon will be presenting the Keynote Address: Gearing Up for Global Markets: Opportunities for Fostering Innovation and Commercialisation of Water Technologies in the UK. UK Water Partnership Director, Mark Lane will be also chairing the following sessions during the conference: “Predicting and Mitigating the Consequences of Too Much Water”, “Predicting and Mitigating the Consequences of Too Little Water” and “The Commercialisation Conundrum.”

Now in its 6th year, the summit will address the need for greater collaboration between different stakeholders in developing a more holistic approach to water management, innovation and financing. 250 global water leaders will gather in London to evaluate current technologies and approaches for transforming waste streams into value streams through effective water re-use and resource recovery, investigate how to build resilience to climate change, while also exploring how data-driven efficiencies can free up capital for investment in new infrastructure.

For more information please visit worldwatertechinnovation.com  

February 20-22, 2017 – Hilton Tower Bridge, London

Case study: biobed reduce on-farm pesticide pollution

Guest post by Dr Richard Cooper, University of East Anglia

 

A two year research program (2013–2015) by UEA academics, in partnership with the Environment Agency, farm managers and precision farming experts Farm Systems & Environment, found that a lined compost-straw-topsoil biobed reduced total pesticide concentrations in waste machinery washings by over 90%, thus minimising both surface water and groundwater pollution risk.

The biobed facility

In 2013, a biobed facility was installed at Manor Farm, Salle Park Estate, Norfolk, UK to treat pesticide contaminated machinery washings. The facility consists of three main components:

  1. Wash-down unit: a 20 m x 9 m enclosed wash-down unit is used to both remove pesticides residues from farm machinery and to contain any pesticides spilt during the filling of the pesticide sprayer. A drain running down the centre of the unit channels contaminated washings into a concrete storage tank (the input sump);
  2. Biobed: the biobed itself is an uncovered, indirect, lined (impermeable geomembrane) design covering an area of 49 m2 (7 m x 7 m) to a depth of 1.2 m, thus providing a large surface area for the sorption and subsequent biological and photo-degradation of pesticide residues. The organic bio-mix matrix material is composed of a 1:2:1 mix of peat-free compost, chopped wheat/barley straw and local topsoil. The surface is seeded with grass. Contaminated water from the input sump is pumped onto the biobed surface via a trickle irrigation system, with the leachate collected at the base of the biobed in a concrete output sump;
  3. Drainage field: the leachate from the output sump is pumped onto a 200 m2 (20 m x 10 m) grass drainage field via a second trickle irrigation system buried just below the surface to promote further removal of residual pesticide residues. A network of 20 porous pots were installed across the drainage area at 45 cm and 90 cm depth to monitor soil water pesticide concentrations at depth for signs of further removal or accumulation.

The biobed facility

Pesticide removal efficiency

Pesticide concentrations were analysed in water samples collected fortnightly between November 2013 and November 2015 from the biobed input and output sumps and from the 20 porous pots buried within the drainage field. In total, 86 different pesticides were detected in the system and the biobed was effective at reducing the concentrations of them all. Results revealed that the biobed removed 68–98% of individual pesticides within the contaminated washings, with mean total pesticide concentrations reducing by 91.6% between the biobed input and output sumps. Drainage field irrigation removed a further 68–99% of individual pesticides, with total mean pesticide concentrations reducing by 98.4% and 97.2% in the 45 cm and 90 cm depth porous pots, respectively. The average total pesticide concentration at 45 cm depth in the drainage field (57 µg L-1) was 760 times lower than the mean concentration recorded in the input sump (43,334 µg L-1).

Table 1: Biobed pesticide removal efficiencies for the 15 most abundant pesticides detected.

Table 1 Biobed pesticide removal efficiencies

Maintenance

The biobed facility required limited maintenance following its construction in 2013. The biobed matrix was topped up with fresh material in July 2015 as decomposition of organic material had reduced the depth of the bio-mix. There was no evidence of a reduction in the pesticide removal performance of the biobed over its two years of operation, nor was there any evidence of seasonality in degradation efficiency indicating the design was able to withstand cool, wet UK winters.

 

Costs to set up

The cost of the biobed including the pipework, pumps, liner, matrix material and labour, was around £4300 and the cost of the drainage field infrastructure was around £1700. Replenishment of the matrix material two years after construction cost £8 per square metre. The most expensive part of the system was £90,000 for the construction of the large wash-down unit and equipping it with mains electricity and steam cleaning equipment, however, simpler facilities would be recommended for wider roll-out.

 

Further information

Agricultural pesticide pollution threatens both riverine and groundwater systems and therefore on-farm mitigation measures are required to reduce the amount of pesticides entering these freshwater environments. This study shows that a three-stage biobed can successfully reduce pesticide pollution risk from contaminated machinery washings on a large commercial arable farm.

This research by Richard Cooper, Peter Fitt, Kevin Hiscock, Andrew Lovett, Lee Gumm, Steve Dugdale, Justin Rambohul, Antony Williamson, Lister Noble, James Beamish and  Poul Hovesen was published in the Journal of Environmental Management in June 2016 – “Assessing the effectiveness of a three-stage on-farm biobed in treating pesticide contaminated wastewater” doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.06.047.

For more information please contact Richard Cooper (richard.j.cooper@uea.ac.uk) or Kevin Hiscock (k.hiscock@uea.ac.uk).

Urban Simulators for Water

Guest post by Kevin Smith, Science and Technology Facilities Council

 

Climate change, population growth and rising customer expectations present significant risks and challenges to our water systems. In the developing world water security is a major risk in terms of development impact and is integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

There are many different agencies, businesses and people involved in the planning and provision of different parts of our water systems, and yet huge investment decisions will have to be made in a coordinated way to ensure an adequate water supply and to manage extreme events such as droughts and flooding.

Cities present particular challenges due to the complexity of infrastructure, and urban areas are becoming increasingly important as a result of the global movement of populations from rural areas to rapidly growing cities.

There is currently a lack of a systems approach to cities and a lack of coordination amongst the many agencies involved. Issues tend to be dealt with in isolation and this approach has not always led to the best outcomes. If a way of holistically visualising existing and proposed new infrastructure could be developed that accurately simulated how systems would behave in a range of scenarios, and how people would interact with them, it would provide a powerful tool to enable business, policy and society to work together to deliver benefits to communities and local economies and to avoid potential failures arising from a lack of coordination.

A simulator would need to bring together often disparate disciplines such as, hydrology, engineered networks, water quality, heat balance, economics, population movement, climate change impacts, greenhouse gas footprint and ecosystem benefits, factoring in issues such as groundwater, rainfall, in-city water mass balance, domestic and community-scale water use and re-use. This would enable testing and virtual engineering of innovative concepts, and the building of a picture of whole water-cycle management at domestic, city and catchment scale to enable integrated and more effective water management.

Simulators for water were first identified at a Water and Cities Workshop in February 2014, and were reinforced by the water community at the Water in Future Cities Showcase in June 2015. The UK Water Partnership report Future Visions for Water and Cities – A Thought Piece  highlighted the potentially valuable role that simulators and demonstrators could play in developing, testing and evaluating innovative ideas that could shape water and cities. The need for a workshop focusing on urban simulators for water was agreed by the UKWP Water and Cities Task Force during October 2015, and this took place at the Science and Technology Facilities Council Hartree Centre, Daresbury Laboratory, on 16 and 17 March 2016. The aims of the workshop were to identify the priority issues that urban simulators could address, to develop a vision for urban simulators and water and explore what actions are required to achieve this. The workshop also identified how key stakeholder groups would benefit from developing urban water simulators. The outputs are documented in the workshop report Urban Simulators for Water and its annex.

Blog: Droughts & Floods

Towards a More Holistic Approach. Guest post by Jim Wharfe, UK Water