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Resilient Water Agency of the Year: Shortlist

For the governmental agency or water utility that offered the most robust or innovative response to the unique challenges of 2020 for the water and wastewater sector.

Shortlisted Nominees

 

Anglian Water, UK

What is it?

Anglian Water serves nearly seven million customers in the east of England. The utility faces significant challenges from the impacts of climate change and population growth, ranging from water scarcity to increased flood risk. To address these it is constantly looking for new ways to maintain and build resilience through innovation and collaboration.

What has it done?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Anglian Water went beyond its primary role and supported its community financially and through innovation. Despite the crisis, the utility achieved its best-ever performance on drinking water quality and for renewable energy use in 2020. It has also set out a green five-step plan for recovery from the pandemic which is focused on environmental sustainability and climate-change resilience.

What makes it special?

Anglian maintained its critical services to its customers during the pandemic, while adapting to increased levels of demand. It also took on a wider responsibility in the communities it serves, for example setting up a £1 million community support fund to support vulnerable people and community groups through COVID-19. It also established an internal fund for employees suffering hardship and its innovation lab was used to produce vital PPE for local hospitals when there was a national shortage.

In 2020, Anglian switched on its largest solar array to date at its Grafham Water reservoir. The solar panels will provide 26% of the site’s energy and save an estimated 3,500 tonnes of carbon annually. Anglian Water’s 25-year Strategic Direction Statement includes commitments to reach net zero by 2030.

 

Anglian finished the procurement process for its Strategic Pipeline Alliance project which will deliver a smart, resilient transfer system through up to 500km of pipelines and associated pumping stations. The plan forms part of Anglian’s Water Resources Management Plan, which looks 25 years ahead to manage and secure water resources, and increase the utility’s resilience to the risks of drought in the region.

 

Gruppo Hera, Italy

What is it?

Gruppo Hera was established in 2002 through the merger of 11 utilities in the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is now the second largest water services supplier in Italy, serving 3.6 million people in 350 municipalities. Gruppo Hera is a multi-utility, supplying water, power, and waste management services, and the utility leverages this position to implement circular economy initiatives.

What has it done?

The region Gruppo Hera serves was the initial hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and the first to experience lockdown. Despite this, the utility was able to ensure service continuity and quickly adapt by implementing remote working, direct home-to-worksite travel for operators and sanitation and physical distancing in the workplace. Gruppo Hera was also able to continue its planned investments in the maintenance and replacement of its network, increase its water efficiency and improve its leakage reduction performance.

What makes it special?

Gruppo Hera completed an important phase of its Seawater Protection Plan, with the construction of two rainwater collection and storage tanks, designed to prevent sewage overflows into the ocean. The Seawater Protection Plan aims to make the sewage system of the popular sea resort of Rimini more resilient, ensuring the seawater is safer for bathers and marine wildlife.

Water efficiency is a strong focus for the utility. To reduce leakages, it implemented metered districts, set up predictive maintenance and uses satellite imagery to detect leaks. Internal water management initiatives reduced water use at facilities by 12% compared to 2017, and more than 14 million m3 of wastewater was reused for agricultural purposes.

 

Publicly listed since 2003, Gruppo Hera was included in the Dow Joes Sustainability Index in 2020. Its overall score of 87/100 positions it as the best multi-utility in the index, which evaluates companies for social responsibility and good governance based on economic, environmental, and social dimensions.

 

Orange County Water District, USA

What is it?

Formed in 1933, Orange County Water District is a bulk water utility that manages and protects water supply from the Santa Ana river and Orange County’s groundwater basin. It supplies groundwater to 19 water districts that serve 2.5 million customers in north and central Orange Country, California. OCWD also manages the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse.

What has it done?

Defying the COVID-19 pandemic, OCWD focused on long-term objectives to strengthen the reliability and safety of Southern California’s water supply. This included securing financing for the final expansion of the GWRS, by obtaining two loans from the EPA and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and launching initiatives to address PFAS contaminations in groundwater basins.

What makes it special?

The GWRS, the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse, replenishes the county’s groundwater basin and remains highly reliable even during times of drought. With the intensity and frequency of droughts in California likely to increase as a result of climate change, the expansion of the GWRS will enable OCWD to be more resilient to water scarcity issues.

OCWD is taking proactive steps to address the increasingly visible threat of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contaminations in the groundwater supply by launching the largest pilot testing program to test PFAS treatment and removal techniques. The utility plans to construct PFAS treatment plants which it will aim to have online in the next two to three years.

 

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, OCWD implemented an extremely effective digital communication strategy to keep the public informed about the utility’s operations. This included a digital COVID-19 information centre, virtual tours of the GWRS facility to replace in-person tours and free monthly webinars.

 

Public Utilities Board, Singapore

What is it?

PUB is Singapore’s national water agency, responsible for the entire water supply and sewerage system. PUB manages water supply in an integrated way, using local catchment water, imported water, high-grade reclaimed water and desalinated water to overcome water scarcity and supply Singapore’s 5 million residents.

What has it done?

Early in 2020, PUB implemented a crisis management plan to ensure business continuity and the safety of customers and staff in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. By maintaining business continuity, it was able to pursue the reinforcement its integrated water management model to increase resilience to climate change and the ever-present water scarcity issues faced by Singapore.

What makes it special?

As well as ensuring business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis by implementing remote working, physical distancing, and sanitation measures to protect staff and customers, the utility also collaborated with the National Environment Agency on its wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 program. PUB was also appointed a WHO collaborating centre for safe management of drinking water for a third consecutive term in 2020.

In April 2020, PUB was appointed as Singapore’s National Coastal Protection Agency. The role involves developing strategies to safeguard Singapore’s coastline from the threat of rising sea levels and intense rainfall, using water expertise to strengthen the city’s overall resilience to climate change.

 

The utility continued long-term strategies to secure Singapore’s water supply in 2020. This included commencing operations at the innovative Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, capable of producing 137,000 cubic metres of drinking water a day, and adopting smart tools to detect and pre-empt pipe leaks.

 

The Global Water Awards 2021 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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