Adapting our operations
We recognise that we must take a more sustainable approach to the development, management and operation of our assets in order to effectively adapt to climate change. For example, continuing to pursue a policy that we make all our sewers bigger to take account of the increases in rainfall can no longer be considered a sustainable approach.
Instead, we will maintain our service to customers through a more holistic, integrated and partnership-based approach as set out below.
Reducing demand for water is paramount, and our efforts to encourage and support water efficiency measures by customers will continue to expand. We will continue to work with external partners to integrate our messaging further afield.
We realise that we also need to play our part and we are committed to being water efficient throughout our own operations by reducing leakage and monitoring our own water usage. We have recently secured accreditation to the Carbon Trust Water Standard which recognises companies for their measurement management and reduction of their own water usage.
In terms of managing water supply and demand, we already have a single, very capable integrated supply zone covering the majority of the North West. Generally, this system is proficient in managing demand across the North West, but there are extremities that remain ill-equipped to deal with future challenges. Our approach is to therefore bring more supplies online to meet any potential shortfalls. Our detailed plans to ensure we can continue to provide safe and clean water to customers in the North West long into the future are covered within our Water Resource Management Plan.
The key risk to our wastewater service is the predicted increase in more intense rainfall events across the region. The sustainable management of surface water is vital in adapting to this risk. Current work to improve our management of this risk includes:
- Working with Defra, DCLG, Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) and developers to ensure that the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) through the planning process is successful;
- Working with LLFAs and the Environment Agency (EA) to develop Surface Water Management Plans across the region.
- Embedding our partnership working approach with Local Authorities, EA and others.
There is the potential to deliver enhanced benefits to all parties with sustainable interventions, implemented in collaboration with other stakeholders, moving away from traditional costly capital schemes, helping to share costs. On the wastewater network we are further developing our risk based approach using data on population growth and climate change amongst others to predict both the current and future risks to the service that our sewerage network provides. We can then combine our risk data with that from other stakeholders to identify areas of common risk, facilitating partnership working to jointly resolve problems.
The requirement for other stakeholders to adapt to climate change acts as an opportunity to establish better working relationships with key stakeholders and regulators. It enables us to address the barriers and interdependencies needed to manage adaptation activities and deliver mutual benefits. This will enable robust sustainable solutions to be put in place for complex issues, where multiple agencies are jointly responsible. Working collaboratively in tackling these issues will reduce the costs of the adaptation activities. We are focusing heavily on this approach through stakeholder engagement and partnership working to tackle these issues more effectively.
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