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COP28 is approaching, and the summit is urging the private sector to commit to bolder climate and net zero action. A new report shows that when it comes to the water sector, advanced tools to support carbon goals are already delivering results, writes Ian Thompson, managing director, Xylem UK & Ireland.

The climate crisis is a water crisis – and we are at a tipping point. Water scarcity, the resilience of water systems in the face of climate change and water affordability are putting lives and local communities at risk.   

Ahead of the COP28, opening in Dubai on 30 November 2023, the summit presidency has launched a charter to mobilise the private sector to commit to greater credibility in their net-zero emissions pledges.  

For the water industry in the UK and Ireland, while regulation and further investment are vital, innovation, technological advances and effective collaboration are the key to bringing the water sector up to a standard that meets modern-day societal and environmental requirements.   

There are many examples of bold actions being taken to reduce carbon emissions, some of which are highlighted as case studies in Xylem’s UK & Ireland Sustainability Impact report but, as the report says, no single entity can solve the sustainability challenge alone.  

 Through innovative solutions and technologies that promote sustainability and partnerships with like-minded organisations, the water sector in UK and Ireland must leverage its collective strengths and resources to achieve meaningful change.  

Here are two examples of how Xylem UK & Ireland partnerships are helping build more resilient businesses and communities:  

Rapid leak detection – Hadfield, Sheffield  

With challenging targets to meet on network leakage, Yorkshire Water needed an innovative approach, which led to creation of the UK’s first smart water network. 

Xylem collaborated with engineering consultancy Stantec and other third-party vendors for a pilot project which initially focused on 24 district metered areas (DMAs) within the urban area of Hadfield. Following its success, Yorkshire Water has expanded the smart water network to cover a wider area, encompassing 84 DMAs, with 300km of pipeline and 74,000 properties, making it the largest smart water network in the UK.  

Xylem’s Water Loss Management (WLM) solution saw the implementation of an advanced analytics platform that harnessed data from different sources to deliver insights into the network and empower operators to spot leaks more rapidly.  

The WLM was the first smart platform in the UK to incorporate a hydraulic model simulator and localised surge analysis tool to quickly detect changes in pressure. The platform offered near real-time monitoring of all datastreams, allowing the health of each stream to be tracked and reported.  

Xylem’s smart platform achieved the following highlights in the first phase of the project:   

  • Leakage reduced by 32% in highly instrumented DMAs with high intensity sensors and smart meters 
  • Visible leaks decreased by 57% 
  • Reliability and maintainability activities and CO2 cut by 41%.

Pump station performance – Wymondham, Norfolk  

Anglian Water is targeting net zero operational emissions by 2030. Some 6% of Anglian Water’s carbon emissions are from their vehicles. The adoption of new technologies that assist both in reducing carbon and quantifying it, to qualify that improvement, is seen as key to net zero.  

Wymondham pumping station in Norfolk had been troubled for a significant number of years. The station takes both foul and storm infiltration and there were frequent reactive attendances to site due to pump blockages, which presented a flood risk to customers, adjacent road and near the river.  

The station required two cleaning visits each year, particularly problematic because of the depth of the wet well, with the added challenge of the station being located in an open public area. Xylem worked with Anglian Water’s asset improvement delivery team in May 2018, replacing one of the existing 2016 pumps with a single Flygt Concertor N6020 Intelligent pump, along with a Xylem control panel, fitted with an XPC – extended performance control – system.   

The one existing pump set was configured to run only if the level rose to the assist level. During the trial, the manual sump cleaning was extended to 12 months. The station was monitored by Anglian Water for 15 months, and in October 2019, it was completely upgraded to a dual Concertor pump and XPC system.  

Anglian Water continued to monitor the station for performance and wet well cleanliness. Successful outcomes included: 

  • No reactive visits to site due to pump blockages in the four years from the installation of the Concertor pumps  
  • Impeller wear was measured after two years with minimal wear – no adjustment required 
  • Reduction in consumption of fuel associated with transport as a result of reactive site visits, manual sump cleaning and electrical savings equated to an 84% reduction in CO2-equivalent.

These are just two of many examples of successful collaborative projects, which are supporting water companies’ environmental and net zero commitments. Others, including the technologies Xylem is implementing within its own company and the work it is doing to support communities, can be seen in its Sustainability Impact Report.   

As a company, we are doing all we can to ensure that when it comes to solving water and resource challenges, we, our customers and partners are working as one to build more resilient businesses and a more resilient world.  

Xylem’s UK and Ireland’s 2022 Sustainability Impact Report can be downloaded at www.xylem.com/en-uk/sustainability/