First, can you let us know a little about your background?
My background is in water engineering, specifically pipeline design and network management. Although I have significantly diversified in recent years working across the asset management, strategic planning and operational areas for a number of UK water companies. I’ve worked mainly in the UK regulated water sector (approx. 14 years) but have also worked in the Mining and Environmental sectors.
You are Strategic Planning Manager, Networks, at Southern Water. This sounds like a comprehensive role – can you explain a little about your job, and what specific areas of network operations your responsibilities cover?
Essentially it covers all aspects of water networks policy and strategy but particularly the 5 to 50 year plans including leakage, PCC, water quality, network performance and network resilience. This with the overall aim of reducing leakage by 50% by 2050 and to reduce consumption to 100 l/h/d by 2040
Your presentation is on integrated sensor management – using all network sensors, communication channels and data management tools to give you ‘one picture’. How important is continuing innovation, such as AI and machine learning, to this concept? And what are the major emerging technologies being used or trialled at Southern Water to support future integration of network sensors?
AI/machine learning are vital to being able to improve performance, the key is being able intervene earlier (particularly with leaks) and even prevent other issues such as bursts/water quality events. We are currently trialling some machine learning approaches and looking at a number of platforms for integration. The key for us is to find a way of fusing the data together and show this geographically to help prioritise interventions / improve operational situational awareness.
Southern Water is one of the UK water companies in the waterstressed south east region of England, so reducing leakage is even more crucial, as is reducing customer demand, for maintaining resilience and security of supply. Do you feel confident that the company’s water resources can be maintained to meet customer demand?
By 2030 we will have a supply/ demand deficit of 294 Ml/d in severe 1 in 200 year droughts. We are using a multi-track approach to deal with this including:
• Developing new resources (desalination, water re-use and a new reservoir).
• A new regional water grid for our Western Area (which is the most water stressed with a sustainability challenge of 188 Ml/d).
• Demand Management – reducing leakage by 15% by 2025 and PCC to 120 l/h/d by 2025. With a significant emphasis on developing a smart network to also improve water quality and interruptions performance to provide more resilience.
• Catchment Management – preserving our existing sources to ensure resilience to drought, nitrates, pesticides etc…
How important is Water Resources in the South East (WRSE) group, an alliance of the six water companies in the south east region, for sharing resources – both water and knowledge – to your role as Strategic Planning Manager?
WRSE will be important going forward to co-ordinate not only within the region but also with the other water resource groups such as WRE. It will also be vital to coordinating knowledge sharing and closer collaboration on technical solutions to reduce leakage and consumption.
Without revealing the full details of your full presentation, with 50- 100 words can you describe your presentation and how it will help your fellow colleagues?
It covers a few main points:
• Overview of the challenge faced by SWS and the south-east
• Brief description of the multi-track approach
• More detailed description of the leakage and PCC challenge looking a different horizons from 2020/2025/2030.
• The technological mix needed and key decisions to be made.
• How we are trying to integrate the various technologies.
• (Provisionally) a view on regional collaboration with other companies and how we can learn from each other (everyone seems to have a strength).
What are you looking forward to at the 10th Global Leakage Summit in June?
• Further networking opportunities and finding out how others are dealing with similar problems. In general I am looking forward to finding more collaboration opportunities and finding out about new approaches to dealing with leakage.