Tackling droughts and reinventing the wholesale market: Bristol Water partnership awarded £620,000 in innovation funding

Bristol Water, in partnership with Castle Water, Binnies, RWE, and The University West of England have been awarded £620,000 to explore a local and lower carbon alterative to drought planning, which could shake up the wholesale water market as we know it.


The funding has been provided as part of Ofwat’s £36million Water Innovation Challenge and will be used to pilot the development of local water supplies by third parties, seeking to overcome current market blockers.


Mel Karam, CEO of Bristol Water, said: "The water industry needs an estimated £21billion to build resilience to drought over the next 30 years. To compliment the industry’s current focus on infrastructure to pump water further, we’re exploring the development of smaller and local treated water supplies which could lower the environmental impact as well as a range of other benefits."


John Reynolds, CEO of Castle Water, said:This could reinvent the retail and wholesale market as we know it today, fit with our low carbon future and provide much-needed incentives for a step change in business water efficiency.”


Roger Bewley, Business Development Manager at RWE, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this innovative project, we continuously look for development options on our operational sites, this collaboration will hopefully bring a new product to market with less emissions and at the least cost to the consumer.”


Scott Aitken, Managing Director of Binnies, said: "Binnies are delighted to be part of this innovative project to contribute to better managing our precious water resources sustainably. This project can seek to contribute to keeping customer bills as low as possible while releasing the potential for optimising current abstraction licensing and local water supply demands."


John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said: “Each of the winners contribute to the resilience, sustainability and effectiveness of the water sector in the years to come for the benefit of customers across the country. Thank you to the independent judging panel for its challenge and insight in recommending these impressive winners.”


As part of the project, the companies will be investigating whether land owned by electricity firm RWE at Didcot Power Station can be used to supply treated water to retailer Castle Water. Bristol Water will be using its extensive knowledge of water treatment to help aid and manage the process. If successful, it will be the first-time water has been provided outside land owned by water companies.


The Water Breakthrough Challenge tackles the biggest challenges facing water and wastewater services, including net zero, reducing leakage, protecting natural ecosystems, and using open data to deliver value to customers, society, and the environment.


A second Water Breakthrough Challenge will open for entries on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives.  Up to £35 million will be available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society and the environment.