Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) – the measurement of an adverse weather event and its impact on the amount of flow moving through sewage treatment works – will become compulsory in 2025. This creates a challenge for water management companies, that have little time to upgrade treatment facilities to comply with the new rules.
But EDM isn’t the only hurdle ahead for water companies, as their services come under increased pressure.
One of the biggest challenges for water companies is managing the likely increase in both the unpredictability and occurrences of inclement weather. The Met Office predicts that we will see an increase in heavy rain and storms in the coming years; indeed, the UK is already experiencing heavier rainfall. The Environment Agency predicts that rainfall will increase by as much as 50 per cent by 2050.
The governing bodies say this is one of the reasons we need EDM, but little guidance or support has been given to water management companies on how to deal with the impact of increased wastewater.
Adding to this pressure are rising populations, particularly in urban areas. In 2019, almost 83 per cent of the UK lived in built-up areas, with populations growing much faster here than in rural regions. While we may see a slight slowing of this trend in certain cities post-pandemic, this is still an area of concern.
The problem here is that an increase in adverse weather means water companies need more space for storing wastewater. But, space comes at a premium when populations are growing. Plus, the size of the population itself naturally creates more wastewater.
So, while monitoring the issue is a good first step, it creates another set of problems for water management companies.
We’ve previously written about the use of IoT in water management, and how the two sectors are converging. The digital transformation of the water industry will require an entirely new set of candidates to devise and implement strategies that will help water companies to comply with EDM governance.
The IoT will be necessary to create the EDM network envisaged by the governing body, but it will also help water companies to become more efficient. IoT devices can help to improve the management, health, and planning of water management systems by providing real-time data. Though there is initial pressure on resources to invest in the IoT, it should create a long-term benefit for water companies.
Still, the big question remains: how will water management companies respond to the weather events monitored by EDM? Though having the relevant data is important in finding the best solutions, there’s another piece of the puzzle: talent.
Water companies need forward-thinking engineers who can innovate with practical, modern, and sustainable solutions to our growing wastewater problems. As the population grows and rainfall increases, our wastewater must go somewhere – safely, and without negatively impacting the health of our rivers and lakes. Businesses will need to invest in innovation, and they’ll need talented people to help lead the change.
Compulsory EDM will create a short-term concern for water management companies, but longer-term threats are on the horizon. However, with threat comes opportunity, and water companies have the chance to build innovative solutions with world-changing potential.
Murray McIntosh supplies talent to both the water industry and IoT and tech sectors. For more information, or to discuss your hiring needs, please get in touch.
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