Yorkshire Water is changing how it supplies customers in a bid to meet the challenge of providing water for an extra one million people in the next 15 to 20 years.
The company plans to improve its infrastructure, transparency, and impact on the environment as part of a new strategy going forward.
Among the changes are plans to potentially use treated wastewater as opposed to drinking water in supplying manufacturers, greater water conservation and alternative infrastructure which makes better use of the natural environment.
Known as the ‘Not Just Water’ strategy, the Bradford-based firm consulted with some 18,000 customers about its future.
Liz Barber, director of finance, regulation and markets, said: “Speaking to business customers they want to understand consumption. “We want to work with them to use less water.
“That might seem like an odd thing to do because the more they use the more we bill. But in actual fact, one of the key strategic issues is that we are going to have up to one million more people in Yorkshire over the next 15 to 20 years and we don’t want to take anything more from the environment.
“And business customers inevitably want to use a lot more water than domestic customers. Yorkshire Water.
“So what I would expect them to expect from us from the wholesale relationship is much more proactive and to use water in their manufacturing processes in a different way.”
Ms Barber used the examples of two wastewater treatment plants in Leeds and in Hull which are based next to industrial sites that use water in their processing.
“We thought ‘why use pristine water from the environment and making it drinkable and then piping to industrial users who might be able to use treated wastewater?’.
“We are doing pilot schemes to see how this works “It will have an impact on their cost and mean we have got a much more resilient water supply for people who need clean water.
“We will look at the water cycle in a much more holistic way to improve service and reduce cost.”
“We are very proud of the clean-up in Yorkshire’s rivers, in particular the Don, the Rother and the Aire,” he said. “For the first time since the Industrial Revolution we are going to get migratory salmon back in those rivers which is just fantastic.
“But when we stand back and do our holistic environmental impact studies there has been a carbon cost to that. We have to be transparent about it because we have had to build more treatment works and use energy to treat the water to make it clean.
“So we need to look at ways in which we can improve the environment but not improve one part at the expense of the other. We need to think much more holistically and in a way that uses more natural capital.”
The firm will also change the way it operates financially, promising to be more open and transparent with its customers.
This news comes after Yorkshire Water announced it would close its holding companies in the Cayman Islands last year after facing criticism over the level of corporation tax it pays.
“In terms of the national debate around financing and offshore structures, we were the first to say we will remove our Cayman registered companies,” said Ms Barber. “They were nothing to do with tax but the perception was not positive.
“So it was time to get rid of them, it was a complex thing to do but we got on with it.”
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