How water companies might protect themselves from (some) pollution incident responsibility

Andy Godley is an expert in Flows and Metering

Get in touch Get in touch

There is no doubt that over the past 20 years or so, the adoption of the Environment Agency’s MCERTS scheme for water monitoring has led to significant investment and improvements in the flow monitoring of regulated discharges. We are now seeing the Agency applying that same rigour to other regulated flow measurements, such as flow pass forward and event duration monitors (EDMs) for spills to storm tanks at treatment works.

The current furore about storm overflows, and the alleged misreporting, as well as implementation of the Environment Act, is bringing into sharp focus the need for high quality measurements to satisfy the demands of the public and lobby groups. It is also important for the water companies to be able to demonstrate, when appropriate, that pollution incidents are not always their fault!

WRc is pleased to play its part in this process, helping develop standards and testing instruments. 

Indeed, we worked with the Environment Agency some years ago to develop MCERTS standards for water quality instrumentation; however, these have largely languished unnoticed on the MCERTS website. Few other instruments have gone through the same rigorous assessment process to demonstrate their fitness for purpose. Maybe those standards need to be dusted off and revised to encompass the river water quality monitoring required under the Environment Act?

Of course, good instrumentation is only one piece of the picture in relation to obtaining high quality data; instruments must be installed, operated and maintained in line with good practice. The MCERTS self-monitoring of flow scheme includes independent inspections of installations and auditing of companies’ QA processes to ensure that measurement quality is maintained. Too often, we still see instruments in other applications that have not been well installed or are seldom, if ever, maintained. If we are to have robust and reliable data to satisfy the needs of the regulator and the demands of the public, those processes need to be applied to all regulated, and many unregulated, measurements from abstraction to discharge. It could also be argued that we also need similar rigour for clean water distribution networks, with reductions in leakage being a significant driver for the industry, and again the regulator (in this case Ofwat) should be driving good practice, but maybe that’s a discussion for another day…

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Have your say

Head over to the WRc LinkedIn channel to join the conversation and share your thoughts with your network.

React, comment and share
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Start a conversation

Full name
Email address
Company name
How can we help?

Can we stay in touch?

Your details will be stored within our CRM to allow us to handle your enquiry. We'd love to keep in touch and send you our newsletters and other notifications we think may be of interest to you. Please let us know if we have your permission for this.

Andy Godley

Principal Consultant (Flow Measurement & Metering)

Andy's expertise covers all technologies of flow measurement (both open channel and closed pipe) across clean and wastewater applications. He manages WRc's flow test facilities and has experience in designing and performing test and evaluation exercises against standards or client-specific requirements on meters and associated equipment, including verification and AMR (automatic meter reading) systems. Andy has also developed tools for assessing meter uncertainty, whole life costs of meters, meter right sizing and long term meter performance models. He has been closely involved with the Environment Agency’s MCERTS scheme for water monitoring.

2023-08-15 14:42:00