Water Industry Journal

Pollution Performance – The AMP 7 Challenge

Through previous AMP cycles water companies have delivered significant improvements which have seen pollution numbers trending downwards to the lowest on record in AMP 6. This is no small feat on the back drop of the well documented challenges of the ageing infrastructure, climate change and population growth. Especially when you consider it has been achieved alongside innovation in technologies and communication meaning the level of detection and reporting of incidents has risen, the true achievement is therefore under reported.

Companies are now seeing the significant reductions seen in 2012 – 2015 flatten out over the past 3 years and yet the targets for reduction detailed in the PR 19 business plans for 2020-25 are considerable, in some cases companies targeting up to a further 80% reduction in pollution numbers.

Can water companies have real confidence in achieving the pollution numbers they forecast and how will they meet this challenge?

To drive down pollution numbers on this scale in addition to investment into improving asset performance then marginal gains will be required across a number of disciplines.

Looking at the direction of travel and the records, parallels can be drawn with Health & Safety incidents performance. Over the years we have seen a huge and continuous drive to reduce the likelihood of health & safety incidents occurring. In modern times we enjoy much improved working conditions than previous generations and an impressive decrease in incident occurrence.

The risk to human health and safety, has and will continue to be placed ahead of environmental harm, so can we therefore learn lessons to achieve similar significant results for environmental performance:

Therefore, whilst PR19 business plans point to record levels of financial investment into infrastructure improvements and operational systems we should learn that the workforce should not be neglected. Continuous improvement in H&S to the levels we see today has been achieved in large part through emphasis on work force behaviour and environmental managers can learn from this example.

But in practice what changes could be made to deliver marginal gain? If we were to focus on the discipline of pollution incident response, in practice, do we prioritise this with real action rather than words.

AMP 7 business plans have the ambition and potential to drive pollution numbers to an all-time industry low, if this downward trajectory is to be achieved and maintained then prioritisation and investment is required to create a workforce attitude to environmental incidents that is akin to a Health & Safety incident culture or a pro-cycling team performance culture.


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