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FOG prosecution succeeds

SCFoods has been fined £3000, plus legal costs of £4719, for discharging fats, oils and grease (FOG) into Severn Trent Water’s (STW) sewers. It is a criminal offence under section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 to suffer or permit “any matter likely…to interfere with the free flow of its con- tent” to pass into a public sewer. The case was heard on 24 March at Scunthorpe Magistrates Court. On 19 March 2009, Severn Trent

responded to a report of a blockage on the Queensway Industrial Estate in Scunthorpe, which had caused some of the sewer’s contents to dis- charge into the nearby Bottesford Beck. Investigations established that the blockage had occurred due to a build up of FOG, which came from

effluent discharged by TSC Foods. Simon Cocks, wastewater services

director for STW, commented: “Fats, oils and grease cause untold damage to our sewer network because they sticks to the sewer walls and cause a blockage, preventing the free-flow of the network. To safeguard our sewer network we urge all our customers, business and domestic, not to pour fats, oils and grease down the drain. “Where possible, we aim to work

with our business customers by pro- viding support and recommenda- tions to ensure they can manage their effluent levels correctly. Rather than having to take action in court, we would prefer to work together to prevent any breaches occurring in the first place.”

Scottish Water wins a £45M contract

Business Stream, the commercial arm of Scottish Water, has secured a £45M contract with Scotland's col- leges, universities and central govern- ment bodies. Under the three-year deal, it will offer different services to each of the 56 central-government agencies and 62 colleges and univer- sities under a single pricing structure. The awarding body, Advanced

Procurement for Universities & Colleges (APUC), said it had received 26 expressions of interest during the EU-wide tender. But out of the six licensed water retailers in Scotland, only two made formal bids. Andy Anderson, senior procure- ment manager at APUC, said: "Water

is often forgotten as part of an organ- isation’s cost base, but clearly col- leges and universities are under pres- sure to be as efficient as possible, and we're confident that Business Stream will play an important role in aiding that process. It was able to demon- strate considerable value and we were impressed by the breadth of expertise and knowledge available.” The bodies covered by the agree- ment will also be able to access emergency support from Business Stream, and a service to help identify potential leaks before they happen. They will also receive advice about how to reduce their water usage to increase efficiency and save money.

NI water charges back on the agenda

Sammy Wilson, Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister, has given his strongest hint yet that the Stormont Executive will introduce water charges. Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics for Northern Ireland election programme on 28 April, he said: "We have got to make sure that when they are introduced, they are intro- duced on the basis of fairness.” Following popular protests and the

return of power-sharing government in 2007, the executive deferred the introduction of separate water charges, a decision that is estimated to be costing about £200M a year. “We have not said water charges will not be introduced,” said Wilson, “we have simply decided to put it off.” He added that he believes the conditions for charges to be levied in Northern Ireland are not yet right.


Frédéric Devos CEO, Veolia Water UK

Everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment. The water industry, our stakeholders, partners and customers. Some people might say that we just need to weather the storm, keeping our heads down until the good times return. But I disagree. Although we are absolutely right to focus on achieving operational excellence as a means of making our business more efficient, we now need to tackle it from a different angle. We need to follow the example of countless other industries by identifying and segmenting our non-core business activities, then introducing competition to drive up efficiency and effectiveness. In other words: we should move towards outsourcing our operational activities, forging new, cost-effective and mutually beneficial commercial partnerships with high-performing service providers. The UK water industry does have a history of outsourcing certain activities, such as design and construction. However, unlike many other sectors, we have not yet applied the outsourcing model to other areas such as asset management, programme management, project management, operations and maintenance. The reason for this is simple: we have always wanted to do everything ourselves. We need to take a far more proactive stance, passing non-core activities on to an efficient third party that is capable of managing them better than we can, and at a lower cost. The benefits of this approach include: ■ Reduced costs – competition between outsourcing firms has become increasingly fierce so service providers will offer competitive prices

■ Increased performance levels – outsourcing contracts are far more comprehensively defined than in-house agreements, which means outsourcing helps organisations to exert greater control over their operations and transfers the risk to the service provider

■ Innovation – outsourcing can help a company gain access to the very latest innovations, processes and systems on the market. This can drive down costs and increase performance levels

■ Greater employee development opportunities –employees who are transferred across to the new service provider often benefit from greater opportunities for job-relevant training, personal development and career progression.

A sharper focus on core business activities – outsourcing peripheral activities – leaves companies free to concentrate on core business. And the good news is that all of the above can be achieved within the existing legislative framework.

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