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12 October 21

Affinity Water wins its second Ofwat Innovation Award

  • Affinity Water awarded £249,791 of funding for its ‘Seagrass Seeds of Recovery’ bid
  • Another award of £94,500 for its ‘Smarter Tanks’ project
  •  A further £2.9 million to deliver a sustainable, water-saving solution in response to new housing developments

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Affinity Water is pleased to announce that it has won a second Ofwat Innovation Award bringing the total of its awards this year to share with its partners to over £3.2 million.

In May 2021 Affinity Water was awarded its first prestigious Ofwat Innovation Award.

The Innovation in Water Challenge – run by Nesta Challenges as part of Ofwat’s £200m Innovation Fund –awarded Affinity Water £249,791 of funding for its ‘Seagrass Seeds of Recovery’ bid and £94,500 for its ‘Smarter Tanks’ project.

Affinity Water’s two winning initiatives were produced in collaboration with other water companies, UK Universities and government agencies to improve the efficiency and resilience of its water supplies.

The two entries employed new and novel nature-based solutions to improve the resilience of existing infrastructure.

Affinity Water will also contribute to the two projects from its own funds: £31,644 for Seagrass, and £10,500 for Smarter Tanks.

Ellie Powers, Head of Water Resources and Environment explained:

“We take great pride in producing these two winners from the Innovation in Water Challenge, from a very wide and worthy field of contenders. Our strategy was to bring broad-based experienced teams together to examine possible solutions to the pressing problems the water industry faces and to come up with solutions that are truly innovative.

“As we enter the UN Decade On Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), ‘Nature-based solutions’ (NbS) have become recognised as a key way to address the problems of both a nature crisis, and a climate emergency. Nature-based solutions provide many wide-ranging environmental benefits beyond their immediate solution. At Affinity Water we already undertake significant nature-based activities through our long-standing catchment management and river restoration programmes.”

Just four months later at the end of September 2021 it gained another innovation award from Ofwat’s Challenges.

Affinity Water and its project partners won £2.9 million in Ofwat’s first Water Breakthrough Challenge to deliver a sustainable, water-saving solution in response to new housing developments being built.

The project will minimise water demand and offset water consumption with new technologies, to ensure the total water use in three communities remains the same as it was before the new homes were built.

Stuart Ledger, Interim CEO at Affinity Water said:

“We need water neutrality to be delivered in the UK. Sustainable growth is essential given the ongoing impact of climate change and our pledge to net zero operational emissions by 2030. Thanks to Ofwat’s Breakthrough Challenge, we will kick start the launch of water neutrality in the UK with the world’s first at scale project.

“Our partnership of industry leading providers will install water reduction and recycling technologies and engage communities to ensure water savings, carbon reductions and support NAV partnerships.”

Entries to the Water Breakthrough Challenge were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales in partnerships with organisations in and outside the water sector, including universities and institutes, retailers, start-ups, or small businesses in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health, or financial services.

Affinity Water’s collaboration with others has also been acknowledged in other Ofwat awards:

  • Affinity Water is also part of another Water Breakthrough Challenge winner with a consortium called the Catchment Systems Thinking Cooperative (CaSTCo). This is a partnership led by United Utilities between the Rivers Trust, twelve water and sewerage companies as well as academia and environmental charities. It has been awarded £7.1 million to revolutionise the way crucial data about England and Wales’ water environment is gathered and shared, in particular on the health of the nation’s rivers.
  • Affinity Water is also part of a further Water Breakthrough Challenge winner led by Anglian Water and its partners Jacobs, Skanska, Imperial College, Airbus Defence and Space, Microsoft and the University of Sheffield. Alongside fellow water companies South West Water, and Portsmouth Water which have been awarded £7.5 million for their Safe Smart Systems project. The project will use artificial intelligence and mathematical optimisation to improve long-term operational resilience in the face of climate change and rapid population growth.
  • Affinity also jointly won funding in the first Innovation in Water Challenge led by Northumbrian Water with a UK Water Sector Innovation Centre of Excellence. A virtual innovation accelerator hub to promote collaboration in and beyond the water sector and drive transformational innovation.

A second Water Breakthrough Challenge opened for entries on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives which Affinity Water will be participating in.

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