Severn Trent named winners in Ofwat's first Water Breakthrough Challenge

Friday 1st October 2021

Severn Trent has secured funding for a ground-breaking catchment management project, after winning Ofwat’s first ever Water Breakthrough Challenge. 

The Midlands water and waste company, in partnership with Southern Water, South West Water and Thames Water was awarded £2m to take the investment up to almost £3m.

The project will see the partners work collaboratively to design the future of autonomous catchment management from network capacity and storage management, calming flows into the works, enabling resource recovery and understanding the process emission impact.  

The project will leverage clever technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Edge Processing and the Internet of Things.  Ultimately, this will help reduce flooding, storm overflows as well as optimising the treatment works to reduce the carbon footprint.

Rich Walwyn, Head of Asset Intelligence & Innovation at Severn Trent said: 

“This provides a brilliant opportunity for a ground-breaking collaboration with our water company partners and global innovators to deliver benefits for our customers and our environment.  By leveraging the power of the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, we’ll be able to maximise the use of the available capacity in our network to reduce floodings and storm overflows as well as optimising our treatment works to reduce our carbon footprint.” 

Francisco Cabaco, AI & Analytics lead for the Water Industry in the UK at Microsoft said:

“We are proud to be part of the Water Breakthrough Challenge which is driving innovative collaboration across the UK's water industry. Technologies such as IoT and AI are playing a critical role in improving water quality and water efficiency and we look forward to working closely with Severn Trent and all the project partners to use data to reduce water waste, make smarter decisions about water and ultimately improve water quality and conservation.”

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.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said: 

“From Airbus and Microsoft to the Zoological Society of London and the River Trust, the Water Breakthrough Challenge has led to the formation of exciting partnerships with water companies to improve services for customers and improve the environmental footprint of the sector. 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.” 

The Water Breakthrough Challenge contributes to Ofwat’s goal of creating an innovative and collaborative water sector that can meet the needs of customers, society, and the environment into the future. The challenge funds initiatives that water companies would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore.  

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.