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18 April 24

Affinity Water achieves milestone with Water Neutrality project

Affinity Water, a leading provider of clean water services in the UK, is thrilled to announce a significant milestone in its innovation journey with the successful creation of the world's first Water Positive development in Bidwell, Central Bedfordshire in collaboration with IWNL.

This accomplishment marks a groundbreaking advancement in the pursuit of water neutrality and sustainable development.

The project proudly partnered with Independent Water Networks Ltd (IWNL), an Ofwat appointed NAV (New Appointments and Variations) company for the new development. IWNL provide water and wastewater services nationally to customers in areas previously supplied by the incumbent regional water provider.

IWNL's customers actively participated in the project, contributing to its success, and demonstrating the shared commitment to sustainable water management and environmental responsibility.

Affinity Water's Water Neutrality project, funded by Ofwat, aims to explore innovative approaches to achieving water neutrality in new housing developments. The recent achievement in Bidwell showcases the effectiveness of Affinity Water's strategies in enabling growth while protecting the environment.

One of the key commitments under Ofwat's funding rules is the sharing of learnings and knowledge across the industry. Affinity Water is pleased to report that its project results and learnings are being considered nationally and across the water industry, demonstrating the project's impact and relevance on a broader scale.

The project's success is attributed to a two-pronged approach:

  • Reducing consumption in existing non-household or business sectors through Water Efficiency Audits.
  • Decreasing consumption on new housing sites through a combination of Behaviour Change initiatives and technological interventions.

Learnings from Bidwell's Water Positive development have informed the next steps towards building a sustainable solution for the medium to long-term. Affinity Water proposes the establishment of a "Water Trading framework," allowing households and non-household customers to trade water wastage with housing developers or businesses aiming to secure high Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.

Charlie Thackeray, Director at Independent Water Networks said:

“The water neutrality project was a great learning opportunity for all stakeholders involved to make a real difference to the water-stressed area of mid-Bedfordshire. The team have achieved the goal of a water neutral housing development and are rightly proud of how our customers fully embraced the project on a community basis and delivered their water saving pledges. The project’s next step of rolling out smart meters, with a mobile phone app, will allow our customers to see their daily water usage and where potential future sustainable savings can be made.”

Affinity Water remains committed to collaborating with industry stakeholders to share the learnings from Project Zero and contribute to shaping a national framework for water positivity. The government's commitment to developing Water Positive guidance for housing developers and local authorities aligns with Affinity Water's vision, and the company stands ready to support this initiative by sharing its project insights.

The Water Neutrality project's progress has been closely monitored by governmental bodies, with the recent announcement confirming the government's intent to collect evidence to inform the development of Water Positive guidance. Affinity Water's Bidwell development serves as a pioneering example of what can be achieved through behavioural change campaigns and water-saving technologies.

Looking ahead, Affinity Water is focused on ensuring the sustainability and scalability of its initiatives. The company welcomes the legislative consultation proposed by the government, which would enable water companies to own and manage both potable and non-potable water mains. This regulatory change holds the potential to unlock further opportunities for water companies to innovate and contribute to water neutrality efforts and to protect the environment.

Lina Nieto, Water Net Zero Manager at Affinity Water said:

"We are immensely proud of the achievements of our Water Neutrality project and the successful creation of the world's first Water Positive development in Bidwell."

"Our commitment to sustainability and innovation drives us forward, and we look forward to continuing to share our learnings with the industry."

Affinity Water proudly announces their work as an innovation finalist at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards for their groundbreaking Water Efficiency Project of the year.

This recognition stems from their successful participation in the Water Breakthrough Challenge in 2021, where they spearheaded a proposal aimed at achieving Water Neutrality at NAV sites.

By prioritising water demand reduction and leveraging innovative technologies, Affinity Water and its partners are pioneering a transformative approach to ensure new developments maintain water neutrality. This collaborative effort not only surpasses current sustainability goals but also establishes a blueprint for achieving measurable water neutrality, benefiting both the water company and new entrants alike. Through this initiative, Affinity Water aims to bolster operational resilience, protect local environments, and foster a more competitive market landscape within the water sector.

For more information, please visit the full report on the government's measures here.

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