Northumbrian Water has been awarded more than £6m for four innovation projects that are aiming to improve its customer service and help protect the environment.
The funding from the Water Breakthrough Challenge run by water regulator Ofwat will help progress projects on smart metering, protecting the sewer network, sharing data between water companies and improving public understanding of the value of water. Northumbrian Water’s projects – the Water Literacy Programme; the Hydro-powered Smart Meter; the Root Defender, and Stream – are four of 16 solutions that have been awarded a total of £40m.
The Water Literacy Programme will aim to provide the company’s stakeholders with a greater understanding of the value of water, improved awareness of links between water use and the environment, and techniques to help people use less water. The Hydro-powered Smart Meter, meanwhile, is a water meter which will be fitted in customers’ existing meter chambers and use mains water pressure to power it, rather than batteries.
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Funding for the Root Defender project will help development of a gel solution which aims to prevent tree roots from damaging the sewer network, which can lead to flooding and pollution. And the Stream project will see an open data-sharing platform created which will allow all of the UK water companies to share data with one another, as well as other utilities companies and the wider public.
Angela MacOscar, head of innovation at Northumbrian Water, said: “Protecting our environment is a top priority for us. Whether that’s working with customers to manage our precious water resources more effectively through the Hydro-powered Smart meter or the Water Literacy Programme, or minimising the damage that tree roots can have on our sewer network, the funding granted by Ofwat will bring a real boost.
Angela MacOscar, head of innovation at Northumbrian Water (Image: publicity handout from Northumbrian Water) “All four projects we’re working on will bring benefits for our customers across the region and we’re so proud that we’ve secured funding for each one – I can’t wait to see how they develop.”
Northumbrian Water is currently finalising preparations for its annual Innovation Festival, which starts at Newcastle Racecourse on July 10. Now in its seventh year, the event aims to bring together experts to tackle issues such as climate change, cyber security and water scarcity.
David Black, CEO at Ofwat said: “The water sector has faced mounting pressure over systemic challenges related to the environment and society, while the climate around us continues to drastically change shape. That’s why we’re funding ground-breaking innovations with potential to help us save and reuse water and wastewater products, while supporting wider society.”
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