The answer to resilience is to do more civil engineering projects, says Civil Engineer magazine in its July edition. They are understandably looking forward to the report of the National Infrastructure Commission on what the UK’s infrastructure priorities should be and are expecting water to figure highly. They are critical of the water industry regulator Ofwat for focusing on further reductions in the level of leakage and demand reduction through metering.
The argument about leakage seems to be that everyone’s done a lot of it already, and finding more leaks is very difficult, so we should stop where we are. That doesn’t seem to hold water..
The arguments about demand reduction are a bit more sound. Water is cheap and smart meters are going to have little effect on user behaviour. This is almost certainly correct. An accurate monthly bill for an expense that is a small % of expenditure isn’t going to change most people’s water use.
The UK regulator Ofwat has recently published a report on the Beast from the East when a cold snap in the UK earlier this year triggered a lot of bursts. It seems odd that the report mentions resilience in two contexts only: when talking about moving water to where it is most needed, and in relation to ‘resilience forums.’ It leaves one with the impression that Ofwat’s focus (or that of the report’s author perhaps) seems to be on how to handle problems when they arise rather than preventing them. This was not the impression created when Ofwat gave prominence to resilience as a concept in its steer for PR19 – the price review which will govern the next 5 year regulatory period in the UK.
Here at i2O we’re most interested in helping water companies become resilient by minimising leakage through network monitoring and analytics, event management, and network optimisation, and by being ready to maximise the time between a looming crisis and an actual crisis when restrictions are placed on customers. Different, and complementary, aspects of resilience.
Image attribution: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3203539