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Bioresources, Market Transparency, and The Future

With a continually growing population, the demand right across Yorkshire Water and other Water and Sewerage Companies is continually growing. This increasing demand is felt across the activities of a water company, not least in bioresources (also known as sewage sludge). The market around bioresources is also changing, there are more suppliers and the parallel market for other organic waste treatment provides significant opportunity for innovation and shared learning.

Going forward the need to build, plan, and adapt to this constantly developing market is essential. Cooperation and communication between companies in the market is key to everyone's success. Here at Yorkshire Water we are a firm believer that transparency breeds trust and innovation. That is why we want to make our public bioresources data really easy to use so that the whole market have full access to the internal workings to bioresources at Yorkshire Water.

Yorkshire Water have a wide range of data on sites; including Site Capacity, Sludge Production, Geographic details, and far, far more. To give you a context of the segment of the bioresources market that Yorkshire Water is responsible for:

  • Our current spend on treating sludge is approximately 10% of our annual operating costs.
  • We treat in the region of 150,000 tonnes of sewage sludge every year.
  • We utilise sludge to create sustainable, renewable energy, through the medium of anaerobic digestion.
  • By 2020 we aim to convert 100% of sludge into energy, at this moment we are converting 69%.

Why is this so important to us? OFWAT, the Water and Sewerage regulator, has asked Water and Sewerage Companies to voluntarily share Bioresources Market Information by November 2017, and to do so compulsory by July 2018. We think this is a great first step but we think companies can do better. We'd like to see the data published in a format that's easier to use and for it to be published more regularly so the market can offer more agile solutions to bioresources needs.

Our aims are:

  • To operate more efficiently - Ensuring that sludge is treated in the most efficient manner possible. This is most prevalent with movement of sludge in border regions for all Water and Sewerage Companies. Where sludge from Waste Water Treatment Works of varying sizes are being transferred further distances to our own treatment sites, than perhaps Water and Sewerage Companies sphere of operations.
  • Boost resilience - Awareness when our neighbours have capacity deficit and surplus will allow us to plan going forward how we can avoid a fallout in treating sludge. When unavoidable circumstances, such as flooding, faults in machinery, and breakdown in movement of sludge happens, we will be ready to act.
  • To deliver further innovation within the sector - Helping ourselves by helping others to ensure we all deliver

To get there we need help, in the form of a central system that allows not just ourselves, but our neighbours to document all their equivalent data in one central, cloud based, automatically updated location. Our ideas for this are as follows:

  • We think it would be helpful if other companies uploaded their own data to this location.
  • We want an app; something that is easily interacted with and highlights needs and opportunities clearly.
  • More regular updating of data, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest information on capacity and availability with their neighbours.

As part of this ambition, we are starting to release out our data using standardised csv formatting in a bid to encourage others to do the same. This information can be found on our own website at www.yorkshirewater.co.uk/bioresources and via data publishing house www.datamillnorth.org - simply search for Yorkshire Water to find the latest updates.