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INTERVIEW 9th Global

INTERVIEW 9th Global Leakage Summit In the run up to the 9th Global Leakage Summit 2018 which will held from March 13-14 in London, the London Business Conferences Group (LBCG) recently conducted an exclusive interview with Bob Taylor, Operations Director, Drinking Water Services, South West Water, UK in which they discussed water leakage and more. LBCG: You have worked in a senior position for water utilities in UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East, so you have a wide experience of the range of topics we are discussing at the 2018 Summit. You are chairing a Keynote Panel on Day 1 of the 2018 Summit, echoing the Summit theme - ‘efficiency, resilience and sustainability’. What do you see as the biggest influence on achieving these three goals in water scarce areas and countries with less developed infrastructures? Is it better utilisation of new technologies and best practices, or is it more about ‘working with what you have’ but increasing the awareness of senior utility staff to the significance of controlling water loss in a world where water supplies are diminishing? From a strategic perspective it is vital that key policy and decision makers understand the challenges we are facing globally with climate change, population growth, urbanisation and the scarcity of water resources. In addition the value of water, its importance to the living environment and the vital role water plays in human and economic development should underpin any strategy to ensure water is used wisely and water loss and wastage is minimised. Once these high level drivers are understood the next challenge is for water management senior level practitioners to understand the range of tools and technology available and the experiences gained globally over the last 30 years in the battle to minimise water losses and conserve this valuable but finite resource. Water loss management has been an area of evolving technology and know-how and it is important that people are aware of what is available and what will be appropriate and effective in their local environment. LBCG: There are some interesting and relevant panel discussion topics for both the UK audience and international delegates. From a UK water company viewpoint, do you see the regulatory drivers of a 15% reduction in leakage by 2020 - and a standard reporting structure across the UK – as feasible and practicable? These challenges have emerged as a result of an understanding of customer priorities and a desire from both water companies and regulator to inject new impetus into the British water industry’s long record post privatisation 24 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 Asian Water

INTERVIEW in reducing leakage. The standardised reporting was initiated by the industry itself in order to make it easier for our customers to make direct performance comparisons and judge how well their own supplier is delivering in this area. Both requirements are challenging in different ways particularly as they are hitting the industry at the same time – but in both cases the changes were planned and companies have sufficient time to prepare. LBCG: What do you see as the single most important change that could be implemented by UK water companies to drive down their own network leakage – and that of their customers - to such a level? Are more robust demand management measures needed, particularly in water-scarce areas of the UK? Speaking for my own company, South West Water which covers a large mainly rural area with wide variations in topography, we are planning to modernise and improve our pressure management infrastructure which we believe will help us reach the new targets. This is only one part of a multi-faceted strategy. Certainly in resource stretched areas the combination of demand management measures needs to be as strong and effective as possible along with education of customers to promote less wastage and more efficient water use. LBGC: Another agenda topic is ‘upstream losses’ - Large diameter trunk (transmission) mains have always been the ‘bête noire’ of water networks, as some of the most difficult pipes to monitor and manage cost-effectively. Do you see any upcoming technologies or practices, particularly those to be disseminated in the Summit agenda that can best address this scenario? In the UK high impact trunk mains failures are becoming more frequent driven by extremes in climate and asset deterioration. It is therefore even more vital that water companies become more capable in monitoring trunk main leakage performance in order to identify small leaks before they develop into catastrophic bursts. There are some interesting emerging technologies in this area such as satellite imagery, infra-red drones and fibre optics. LBGC: Innovation – another panel session topic on Day 1 - clearly plays a large part in improving efficiency and bringing down the costs of technology. But who should encourage innovation – the water utility or the supply chain? And where does the funding come from? Innovation should be driven by business need particularly in delivering improved outcomes for customers – and the solution can be developed by companies themselves or the supply chain or whoever is best placed to do this. In reality some of the best innovations result from collaborations – companies understanding the need and suppliers developing solutions. The evolution of modern leakage management knowhow and technology has followed exactly this path. Can innovation also be applied to the workforce – to change mind-sets and encourage upskilling? What can both water companies and regulators do to promote and influence a culture of innovation? Innovation in terms of skills, capability and training is probably an area that has not had enough emphasis historically but with the onset of the digital revolution and the age profile of our industry this is becoming an increasingly key area. Promoting a culture of innovation implies a wide range of actions but it is important to recognise that innovative products and process often fail and this is not necessarily a bad thing provided the reasons are understood and different improved approaches emerge as a result. Recognising that failure is part of the process is a key attribute of successful innovators. LBGC: What do you think are the primary ‘nuggets’ of information from the Day 1 agenda that can be taken away by our international delegates? The global leakage conference has always provided delegates with the opportunity to stress test their own local leakage strategies by comparing and contrasting with case studies from around the world. If recent conferences are anything to go by I am expecting to hear some great success stories of real life strategies delivering in the field and conserving water resources around the world. (Bob Taylor will be Chairing the 9th Global Leakage Summit in March. The global leakage conference has always provided delegates with the opportunity to stress test their own local leakage strategies by comparing and contrasting with case studies from around the world. For more information, visit: com). AW Asian Water JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 25

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