Don’t shun the three ‘shuns’ – LSBUD’s learnings from Wastewater 2017
Chair, Martyn Hopkinson of the Future Water Association, reflected on proceedings at the recent WWT Wastewater 2017 Conference and declared it “a day of three ‘shuns’; collaboration, education and innovation”.
Understanding the water companies’ positions
Most evident among this group was collaboration – and particularly collaboration between utilities, third parties and customers. Steve Wilson of Dwr Cymru was first to touch on this as he explained their underlying sustainable consideration of Welsh Water 2050 and the on-going drive to pursue commercial opportunities that generate surpluses, which will be returned to the customer by way of an improved service and experience.
Nevil Muncaster, Yorkshire Water’s Director of Asset Management, continued this theme as he described Yorkshire’s ‘Trilemma’; the balancing act between ageing assets, customer expectation and affordability. With Yorkshire’s average asset being 83 years old and the population of the region set to grow 20% in the next 20 years the challenge is considerable. With clever use of Hull, the 2017 city of culture, as a case study Yorkshire’s forward looking approach was clearly explained.
Northumbrian Water Ltd, through Richard Woodhouse and Eilis Furlong, went on to give a really entertaining talk on their own approach to collaborating with their local authorities and The Environment Agency. Referring to two utopian employees, Bill and Betty, NWL explained how they have taken a conscious and collective decision to improve the ways in which they work with third parties. NWL employees and their partners are striving to be “a bit more like Bill and a bit more like Betty” and it is certainly working.
With a new personal goal of being a bit more like Bill, this excellent conference provided a useful opportunity for reflection on the role of our business as a utility supplier. Whilst it was reassuring to understand that we are doing the right things, we must keep two crucial issues at the forefront of our minds in our future planning:
1. Continual and improving collaboration with our members
2. The needs of our members’ customers (i.e. the users of our service) must underpin every decision we make.
It also provides an appropriate time to take a moment and check whether or not LSBUD pays enough attention to the three ‘shuns’? While there is always room for improvement, we can so far be pleased that our efforts are supporting the goals of the utility sector:
• Collaboration: Ensuring utilities protect their assets to the highest levels through a shared platform.
• Education: Informing utilities and third parties of vital asset locations and the need to search before they dig.
• Innovation: Improving the customer experience by increasing member numbers and easing the early identification of underground infrastructure.
We look forward to a busy few months ahead both in terms of the development of the service and a long list of events already planned.
6th February 2017
Business Development Manager (LSBUD)