Collaborative event brings water industry organisations closer

  • British Water, Water Industry Forum and Future Water Association work together
  • Skills shortage, innovation and environmental concerns all under discussion
  • Agenda set by members of three organisations at interactive conference

Environmental concerns, consumer confidence and the need for innovation were among the issues raised at an event aimed at bringing the water industry together.

More than 80 delegates working in all aspects of water attended The Future of the UK Water Sector conference held in Leicester on 6 December 2016. The event was organised by trade association British Water in collaboration with the Water Industry Forum and the Future Water Association.

Working together
British Water Chief Executive Lloyd Martin said: “This event is the first of its kind in which these three organisations have worked together. We have come together in recognition of the fact that there is a demand that the sector as a whole work more collaboratively.

“Between us we represent a pretty wide cross-section of the water and wastewater industry. It is increasingly important that the water industry has a voice – but also that its concerns are shared and understood between different sectors.”

Among those attending the event at Leicester City Football Club were representatives of utilities, academics, regulators and government agencies, as well as manufacturers and contractors from across the supply chain. The agenda was chosen by asking members and associates of the three water industry bodies what were the greatest concerns facing the industry today.

Skills shortage
Among the topics raised were fears of a skills shortage and whether the industry was keeping pace with technical advances in other sectors. The need for fostering and implementing world-class research and for addressing environmental concerns was also discussed.

Key speakers included Martin Baggs, former chief executive of Thames Water; Trevor Bishop, Ofwat director of strategy & policy and Consumer Council for Water senior policy manager Hannah Bradley. The morning session was chaired by Michael Roberts, chief executive of Water UK, while the afternoon was guided by Professor Tom Stephenson, pro-vice chancellor for research and innovation from Cranfield University.

Paul Mullord UK Director of British Water said: “This event was born out of the idea that British Water, Future Water Association and the Water Industry Forum should collaborate more closely together. The idea is to focus on the key concerns of our members and others working in the industry and what we as representatives of the industry should do to tackle these issues.”

Expertise
Peter Drake, chief executive officer of the Water Industry Forum said: “Our joint survey earlier this year identified a number of issues for the water sector that were not receiving the attention that their importance warranted.  It was therefore really good to see the amount of energy that went into tackling these issues in the workshops.  This gives our three organisations real focus going forward.”

Paul Horton, chief executive of the trade association Future Water Association said: “It was fantastic to hear such a wide range of contributions and to have such a breadth of expertise at the event. The interactive nature of the day ensured that real focus was brought to the discussion, helping to develop the priority focus for the sector.”

The event was the first British Water led conference to use an innovative cloud-based software to allow delegates to interact with the event as it was happening. Participants could view presentation slides live, take their own notes in sync with each slide, tweet, ask questions and interact with other delegates – all from their internet-connected personal device.

British Water commercial events manager Leesha Gohil said: “This is the first time we have used the Glisser technology in one of our conferences. Delegates were asked to rate the experience afterwards and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”