As the country’s largest water company by geographical area, Anglian Water set its standards high to ensure excellent quality drinking water across the region.

Despite water quality compliance scores remaining high for decades, Anglian Water’s Head of Water Quality Clair Dunn highlights the importance of continuing to strive for excellence to ensure standards are exceeded for the East of England’s water company.

Compliance with the EU Drinking Water directive was 99.95% in England in 2018, according to the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s annual report, with drinking water described as “excellent” by the organisation’s Chief Inspector. To further scrutinize the sector, new measures were introduced in 2018, but Dunn has embraced the opportunity to provide further credence to Anglian’s successes.

“Drinking water quality is essential to the business we are in, and despite consistently achieving the high industry standards year-on-year, there is always work to be done and fine-tuning to undertake in order to improve,” Dunn outlined.

Culture & Governance

In order to maximise performance, Dunn has helped Anglian to implement a strong culture across the business, ensuring that health, safety and water quality are top priorities in everything the company does.

A strong governance structure has ensured an emphasis on water quality is carried out at all levels in the organisation, with risks discussed and considered in all operational meetings. Senior managers also join compliance monitoring groups alongside weekly quality calls with the company’s Chief Executive, Peter Simpson.

“Through strong governance and a proactive culture, we’re better equipped to ensure that risk and compliance are factored into key decision making, both strategic and operational,” Dunn described.

Competency and Planning

Training is also key to Anglian’s fortunes, with trained and competent staff accessing externally certified programmes. Dunn understands the necessity for staff to “understand water quality risks from source to tap”.

Whether that takes the form of monitoring, investigations or mitigation, it’s crucial for staff to understand the risks in their business area, helping to undertake impact planning and rapid escalation. The company’s commitment to risk assessment has earned them a Lloyd Register certification.

Through this greater understanding, water quality is embedded in planning with identification of risks and mitigation central to the approval process for stakeholders. Clear escalation processes also ensure that early intervention is carried out to reduce impact on customers.

Innovation and Collaboration

Not one to rest on their laurels, Anglian take a proactive approach to share learnings internally as well as across the industry to achieve best practice.

The ‘Could It Happen Here?’ methodology enables Anglian to take learnings from other organisations, as well as the DWI’s Chief Inspectors Report, to understand scenarios and plan for any eventuality. Using real-world examples gives operational staff an insight into the processes which could lead to a water quality failure, and how to prevent them.

Anglian has continued its drive to collaborate, utilising its innovation teams and academic partners to understand what Dunn calls “next generation water quality”, helping to find new ways of tackling future water quality challenges.

Planning for the future

It is clear that Anglian must continue to plan for the long-term, taking into account the challenges of climate change and growth, as well as future Water Resources Management, Brexit, policy changes, natural capital, amongst others.

Future planning will always include the provision of safe, clean drinking water as a top priority and the need for investment will not dissipate. It’s clear that Anglian’s processes are robust, with an uncertain future firmly set in the sights of Dunn and its senior management, making sure that the East of England is protected against the challenges that may come its way.