What innovations has the UK seen in the water sector

Water is the most valuable resource on the planet and even though many people may think it’s a limitless resource, nothing could be further from the truth.

Right now, freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce as communities and countries are suffering under some of the worst drought conditions for a generation.

“Experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI) warned that increasing water stress could lead to more “day zeroes” – a term that gained popularity in 2018 as Cape Town in South Africa came dangerously close to running out of water.” – Guardian

Harsh droughts have always plighted certain parts of the world, mainly the ones close to the equator, however, the issue is now a global one which cannot be ignored.

Betsy Otto, global director of the WRI said;

“We’re currently facing a global crisis. Our populations and economies are growing and demanding more water. But our supply is threatened by climate change, water waste, and pollution.” – Guardian

And that does not exclude the UK, as Environment Agency Chief, Sir James Bevan, said;

“Around 25 years from now, where those [demand and supply] lines cross is known by some as the ‘jaws of death’ – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things.” – Guardian

So what is being done to prevent such a catastrophic scenario from unfolding?

 The World Water Innovation Fund

British water companies such as Seven Trent and United Utilities joined a global initiative to invest in the latest technologies to drive innovation across the industry.

The fund was set up in March 2019 and its goal is to find ways of saving water and improving services to over 50 million people, including UK citizens.

Robotic technology is one such innovation which is being prioritised, as one of the biggest problems facing water companies, is leakage.

Leaks are difficult to find, however, using robots that operate within piping which transports water, will help companies find and repair them significantly faster.

Grey Water Recycling

50-80% of the water which is used in a home can be described as greywater, which means it comes from used bath and showers, dishwashers, and sinks.

This water is now being treated as a recyclable resource, having previously been regarded as waste.

However, If recycled properly, greywater can save approximately 70 litres of potable water per person per day in domestic households, which is why greywater recycling is being developed rapidly across the UK by the likes of Aqaulity and Aquaco.

Thames Tideway

Arguably the biggest and most challenging project underway in the UK is the Thames Tideway tunnel, which is due for completion in 2024.

The tunnel is being built underneath the city to tackle the huge sewage issues which are having an impact on the river Thames and the deteriorating Victorian sewage system which the capital continues to rely on.

Currently, raw sewage simply runs into the river when it rains because the subterranean infrastructure cannot manage rainwater and waste entering the system at the same time.

However, once the new tunnel is complete the river will no longer be used to get rid of waste, meaning the water quality will be significantly improved and polluting wet wipes will no longer have an impact on the environment.

Learn more about the project by clicking here.

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