Providing water services to around five million homes, wastewater services to six million households and covering an area of 27,500 square kilometres, Anglian Water Services holds the distinction of being recognised as the largest water and wastewater company in England and Wales. The principle subsidiary of Anglian Water Group Limited (AWG), Anglian Water Services has a staff of approximately 4000 individuals, all of whom play a major role in helping the company deliver almost 1.1 billion litres of water every single day.
Due to the sheer size of the region, Anglian Water Services operates 1248 water and wastewater treatment works, around a quarter of the total number located in England and Wales. Working in a geographical area that features 1240 kilometres of coastline also means that all the treated wastewater the company returns to nature must pass the strictest of quality standards, as set in law by industry regulators.
The Anglian region is renowned for being one of the driest in the country, recording average rainfall levels that are, generally, a third less than the rest of England. These statistics have been further verified by the announcement made from both the Environment Agency and Defra that, as of June 2011, much of the Anglian Water Services region had officially entered drought status.
Though this announcement provided a timely reminder of the value of water and how users should do all they can to avoid wasting it, Anglian Water Services has been keen to stress that it did not mean a change for any of its household customers. The reason for this is the fact that the company’s water supplies for the summer of 2011 have always remained secure. In fact with its reservoirs being recorded at around 90 per cent full at the time, the company’s supplies are exactly at the level that would be expected at this time of year. With the company’s underground aquifers in a similarly healthy state it remains confident that the possibility of a hosepipe ban remains minimal at best.
Operating in an area of reduced rainfall means that, in essence, Anglian Water Services is constantly in a state of drought rehearsal. Part of the company’s preparations for the summer months involves the ‘banking’ of water in reservoirs such as Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire, Rutland Water and Alton Water in Suffolk during the wetter periods of the year. This allows it to have sufficient stocks available when its customers need water most.
The preventive work goes one step further with the company working together with its customers. With two-thirds of these customers already having water meters fitted, a programme of about 90,000 water efficiency audits will be carried out over the next several years with the aim of reaching a solution that caters for a future scenario that involves an increasing regional population trying to get more out of the same amount of water. Nevertheless it has now been 20 years since the last recorded hosepipe ban came into force in the Anglian Water Services region, and the company does not foresee this changing any time soon.
Maintaining a significant level of investment remains as much of a priority today as it has ever been for Anglian Water Services. In January 2010 the company accepted the price determination that was recommended by Ofwat and with that announced a five-year, £2 billion investment programme. In order to get an even better understanding of how vital such a programme is to the company, one needs only to look at the statistics released in 2010, which revealed that for every £2 the company makes in profit, £3 is re-invested back into the business.
Anglian Water Services’ programme of investment activities is seemingly never-ending, a testament to its belief that it should never rest on its laurels and always be aware of the areas where improvements may be required. As well as upgrading its regional infrastructure and strengthening its existing reservoirs, the company is in the midst of a vast treatment works programme.
Between April 2010 and March 2015, the company is investing more than £100 million in order to improve the performance of its sewage treatment works in order to comply with more stringent discharge consents set by the Environment Agency. This work is similarly being driven by a series of European Union requirements. With the natural environment of the east of England being particularly sensitive and many parts being recognised and protected under the Habitats Directive, the work carried out by Anglian Water Services will help protect and improve these waters and provide a diverse and important regional amenity.
Boasting an approach to business that sees the company thinking 25 years ahead to how it can continue to provide its customers with water, Anglian Water Services has built its success on the back of its industry leading performance record. By constantly reviewing its performance against the standards that are set by the industry’s regulators, the company has been able to become one of only a few water and wastewater bodies to be recognised and rewarded by Ofwat for its sustained, exceptional performance throughout the five years between 2005 and 2010, a feat it fully expects to repeat in the years up to, and including, 2015.