The South East Area Innovation Awards was held on 11th March. Because of the restrictions relating to Coronavirus and the need to put delegates health first, the event was virtual again this year. Nevertheless, the presentations were still very well received, and everyone involved demonstrated great enthusiasm and a willingness to make the best of it!

The webinar was chaired by Anna Boyles, Head of Performance, Risk and Optimisation at Thames Water and the judging panel also included Luke Stanbridge, Z-Tech; Sarah Murray, Affinity Water and David Port who is a key member of the area committee.

The winners were Waterwise with their innovative #Pledge2021 – the water saving behavioural change campaign. Waterwise will go on to represent the South East Area at the National Innovation Awards held at the Institute of Water President’s Dinner later this year.

#Pledge2021 was a campaign aimed at encouraging people to save 2021 litres of water in January 2021. The initiative recognised that changing everyday habits can be hard, and that asking people to adapt their behaviour with water can be especially challenging. Drawing on Waterwise’s emphasis this year on recognising the value of water, as well as all the important reasons to save water, #Pledge2021 introduced people to implementing new behaviours in a fun and approachable way – to transform their knowledge and habits around water in the process. Participants received a short daily email with a simple water saving action or tip. A total of 1129 people subscribed to the #Pledge2021 emails, saving a staggering 2,281,709 litres of water in total. The campaign reached 1,975,326 people on social media and 5,596 unique users visited the campaign webpage.

As always, the standard of entries was extremely high and any of them would have been worthy winners, but the judging panel felt that the education driven innovation was timely and it had clearly delivered results over the period of the campaign. The finalists were;

  • Thames Water – “What is water?” podcast
  • Cappagh Contractors Construction (London) Ltd – Being Brilliant at Customer Engagement
  • B4T – Jellyfish
  • Portsmouth Water – Innovative public consultation during lockdown
  • Waterwise – #Pledge2021 – the water saving behavioural change campaign

The South East Area innovation webinar was one of eye-opening interest and amazing innovation as always. A clear theme that ran through all the entries was one of communication – from communicating with our customers and stakeholders to communicating with our assets.

A big thank you from the area committee to all the entries and finalists, it was great to see such a diverse field of submissions.  Finally, many thanks to Z-Tech Control Systems who sponsored the event.

Click here to find out more about the Institute of Water Innovation Awards.

Thames Water has today announced the appointment of Sarah Bentley as chief executive officer, starting this autumn.

During her time at Severn Trent, Sarah has been the chief customer officer responsible for customer retail and network operations, group technology and transformation.

Ian Marchant, Thames Water’s interim executive chairman, said: “Our board has conducted a thorough search to find the best candidate to fill this important role, and we’re delighted to have secured someone of Sarah’s calibre. Her natural ability to inspire and motivate customer-facing teams will ensure that our collective focus is always on delivering for our customers regardless of the circumstances we face, not least those we’re all experiencing today.

“Sarah has invaluable experience in the water sector and has demonstrated an outstanding ability to innovate and meet customer needs in a regulated environment. This is a critical time for the company, and alongside her passion for customers, Sarah is clearly the perfect person to lead our multi-billion pound investment programme and develop our longer term strategy to ensure a resilient water and waste service for generations to come.”

Among her achievements, Sarah led the transformation of Severn Trent’s digital customer experience, as well as delivering a fundamental shift in the company’s leakage performance – leading to significant improvements in customer satisfaction.

Before Severn Trent, Sarah was managing director of Accenture’s digital business unit in the UK & Ireland, delivering digital transformation programmes to a range of large consumer-facing businesses. Prior to this she worked internationally in a number of roles, including CEO of Datapoint, a private equity-backed company delivering customer relationship management services.

Sarah said: “Firstly I want to thank everyone across the water and wastewater sector for their absolute dedication and service in these challenging times. I am delighted to be joining Thames Water, a business that clearly plays an essential role in London and the Thames Valley and which has such a strong sense of public value. I look forward to working with the team to deliver a service that delights our customers, create a company where our colleagues are proud to work and build a business that is recognised for making a positive contribution to the communities we serve and the environment around us.”

Ian Marchant will continue in his position as interim executive chairman until Sarah joins the company, at which point he will revert back to his role as chairman of Thames Water.

The South East Area Innovation Awards were held on 19th March.

Due to the restrictions relating to Coronavirus and the need to put delegates health first, the event was held via webinar this year. Nevertheless, the presentations were still fascinating and everyone involved demonstrated great enthusiasm and a willingness to make the best of it!

The webinar was chaired by Anna Boyles, Regional Manager at Thames Water and the judging panel also included; Luke Stanbridge, Z-Tech; Sarah Murray, Affinity Water and Abbie Johnson, Thames Water.

The winners were Lanes PLC with their innovative virtual reality initiative for operational training. Lanes will go on to represent the South East Area at the National Innovation Awards held at the Institute of Water President’s Dinner later this year.

Lanes Group plc, working in partnership with Thames Water, have developed the world’s first virtual reality enabled training centre inside a 360-degree video theatre. This is enabling Lanes to develop high impact training games for key operational task that are aligned with the learning preferences of a new generation of employees entering the water utility industry. This innovation is called “Shared VR in Igloo”. It is now supporting key elements of the business and people strategy, including enhancing health, wellbeing and safety; improving staff and skill retention; and increasing the operational capability of the teams and is now recognised globally as an exciting development in team training.

Lanes Director Andy Brierley said: “It’s fantastic that the Institute of Water has recognised what is an exciting and new training resource for us and an exciting new training experience for our teams.

“Shared VR in Igloo is allowing us to develop high impact results through gamification of training that is already transforming our ability to create skilled, engaged and safe operational teams fit for the 21st Century and beyond.”

As always, the standard of entries was extremely high and any of them would have been worthy winners, but the judging panel felt that the people driven innovation was timely and it had clearly delivered results over a significant period. The finalists were;

  • AFECO – Final Effluent reuse skid
  • Lanes PLC – Shared VR in Training Igloo
  • Oxfiniti – Nanobubble Generators
  • Southern Water – Integrated Bathing Water Modelling Framework

The South East Area innovation webinar was one of eye-opening interest and amazing innovation as always. A big thank you from the area committee to all the entries and finalists, it was great to see such a diverse field of submissions.

Finally, many thanks to Z-Tech Control Systems who sponsored the event.

Click here to find out more about the Institute of Water Innovation Awards.

Portsmouth Water is embarking on a procurement programme to build the first new water storage reservoir in the UK since the 1980s.

The water company, in an innovative collaboration with Southern Water, is planning to develop Havant Thicket Reservoir in Hampshire to secure vital drinking water supplies for the water-stressed South East and protect environmentally sensitive chalk streams.

The reservoir is earmarked for a 160-hectare grassland site owned by the water company and is scheduled to be operational by 2029.

As well as providing resilient water supplies, it will also create a new green, leisure facility for local communities and a new wetland habitat for threatened species of birds.

The company is preparing to launch a procurement programme for several packages of works associated with the project – including reservoir construction, pipeline installation, MEICA (Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation, Control and Automation) works, environmental mitigation and leisure facilities with a visitors’ centre.

Bob Taylor, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Water, said: “We’re in a privileged position to be progressing the first water storage reservoir to be built in the UK for decades as the region’s water supplies are put under pressure by climate change, housing growth and the need to protect our natural environment.

“We’re very much looking forward to engaging with companies at all tiers in the supply chain who have an interest in delivering this project successfully for current and future generations. We’re also keen to maximise opportunities for local employment, as well as develop skills and leave a really positive legacy in our communities.”

The company is holding the Supply Chain Engagement Event on March 25, 2020 in Havant, Hampshire, for all tiers of the supply chain, when it will brief local, regional and national suppliers on the plans for the reservoir and associated works.

Suppliers will have an informal opportunity to engage with the company, explore opportunities to be involved and share feedback on the proposals.

Bob added: “We want to ensure our approach maximises market interest and value, as well as ensuring we can benefit from innovation and community involvement.

“This is a flagship project for the South East and it’s likely to be the first of several significant water resource infrastructure developments in coming years, so for this reason we’re keen to start early dialogue with suppliers with relevant experience.”

Companies can register for the industry day at The deadline for registration is March 13, 2020.

To find out more about the reservoir visit

A delegate’s perspective: How I felt about the event, what I enjoyed and what I took away.
Ivan Rozmetanyuk, Anglian Water

I believe that the South-East Area Weekend School was the single most important and valuable event that I have attended in my professional career, thus far.

The event was centred on ‘confident communication’ and was incredibly well structured with three full days of coaching, activities, exercises and presentations to really bring home the message of communicating confidently.

The event was kick-started by the Keynote speaker and deputy headmaster, Simon Bennett from Bristol Water. Simon’s words were not only inspirational and genuinely interesting but really resonated with me personally. He told us not to rush. I found this really simple yet very poignant as being at an early stage of my professional career, it can at times seem as though there is pressure to progress or succeed very quickly. Simon’s message coupled with its’ powerful delivery made us all consider what our priorities were and how we could grow our own confidence in our own time.

We attended a great session delivered by Paul Rhodes on Insights Discovery and learnt about what our personality preferences were in terms of red, blue, yellow or green and how they interact. Whichever preferences you have, it’s more important to know how and when to draw on all of these energies to enable effective and confident communication whilst creating genuine connections. I believe that each delegate learnt something about themselves during this session and will go on to implement the techniques in the workplace.

‘Tea with a slice of wisdom’ provided a rare and valued opportunity to sit with industry leaders and have a genuine discussion over a few cakes in a speed dating format. A lot of cake was consumed as was a lot of advice, motivation and inspiration. One of the key themes that I took away was to ‘fake it till you make it’, not by falsifying your CV but by having the will power to develop your own self-confidence to a level by which you are genuinely comfortable in your own skin and abilities. This will manifest itself during those terrifying presentations, difficult conversations and within your career in general!

Debate Mate taught us about the intricacies of debating and getting your point across effectively, which is a crucial skill that is particularly useful when talking persuasively or presenting confidently. In a grand finale to close the Weekend School, we employed all our learning from the three days and held debate competitions in front of the Dragons (Martin Baggs, Anna Boyles and Simon Earl). This was an opportunity to showcase what we had taken on board and demonstrate how we had developed. I think every delegate would agree that we surprised ourselves.

We all enjoyed the down time which was not only an opportunity to reflect on the day but to also develop our general knowledge in the hardest pub quiz known to man, solve a murder in an eccentric Halloween-themed murder mystery and of course, explore the well stocked bar of the fabulous venue.

I am confident that all the delegates took very valuable points away from the event. Whether it was a better appreciation of different character types, a clearer picture of career goals or the ability to better structure a discussion – like most things, it is what you make of it.


Weekend School 2020

Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th October 2020
CIM Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead, SL6 9QH

“Confident communication for future leaders”

The South-East Area invite you to attend our Weekend School 2020 to develop your communication skills and confidence in a 3-day intensive training course.

Like Ivan, you will have the opportunity to learn more about your personality preferences, the art of debating to get points across and feedback constructively, as well as spending valuable time with water sector leaders. There will also be time to relax and network with other delegates through the pub quiz and murder mystery evenings.

This event welcomes delegates of all abilities, backgrounds and job roles, as well as from all areas of the UK.

Sign up for this event will open once the final agenda has been confirmed so keep an eye out for the email notifications, on social media and on the website!

Best Wishes,
Institute of Water South East Area

The South East Area were delighted to hold an exclusive event with the CEO of Southern Water, Ian McAulay, in October.

It was hosted in a private dining room at the Ginger Pig restaurant situated in the heart of Hove.

Guests had the opportunity to hear Ian’s views on the UK water industry and how he is leading Southern Water into a successful future.

The fascinating insights included;

  • The recent troubled times of Southern Water and how although it was a trying time, it brought the employees closer together
  • The importance of ensuring diversity of thinking in any room/meeting
  • Ian’s world-class athlete daughter’s attitude of not just being driven to win but being driven to prepare to win – everyone in the race has the desire to finish first, but who’s put the effort into making themselves good enough?
  • Space stations – creating their own mini waste and water production plants!
  • Waste isn’t waste, it’s a resource!
  • Work-life balance – commuting from Colorado to India to Australia via England…!!
  • How can we help the sector to improve our public image to help people value the resource and understand the effort that goes into water and waste services
  • Water resources and companies sharing their opportunities and thinking
  • Abstraction and various initiatives (e.g. Test, Itchen, Havant Thicket and Sussex Ouse)
  • Large scale transfer of water to meet resource shortfall is bettered by new and local impounding reservoirs (point of use almost) that provide the additional benefits of recreational facilities etc.
  • Learning from other industries and bringing in their good learning and practices, making them work in our industry
  • Regulators possibly driving us to only invest reactively, rather than build better future-proofed assets
  • “The Klopp theme” – management style of football manager Jurgen Klopp and a debate around where he would fit in our industry!
  • Graphene Institute – innovation that in time will lead to no conventional assets
  • Ofwat £200m innovation fund will be spread too thinly between companies and would it be better concentrated on a couple of initiatives to be shared by all?
  • Riccardo engine management innovations for predictive driving applied to water networks (e.g. pressure surges associated with popular events such as Pride in Brighton)
  • Simple changes to working culture such as email signatures (as we aren’t all 9 to 5ers) “I work flexible hours and on weekends  – but it doesn’t mean you have to! Please enjoy your weekend and respond in your own timely manner.”

The discussions were led by David Port and hearing about Ian’s life in the fast lane and the impact of topical issues such as Innovation, PR19 and Sector Reputation in the political world had everyone in the room fascinated! A genuine thanks to Ian for giving up his valuable time to talk to us. A truly inspiring evening!

The event was hosted by David Port, Richard Aylard, Anna Boyles and Abbie Johnson.

Water Leak Location Services (WLLS) are sponsoring a delegate place at this year’s South-East Area Weekend School for one lucky person!

Weekend School is an intensive, interactive 3-day training course in which delegates will learn the art of successful communication culminating in a show-stopper debate finale.

Full details of the school and activities can be found here.

The winner will receive a fully paid delegate place at the school, including all training and social activities, 2 night’s accommodation and all meals.

To enter, please download the application form here, tell us why you deserve to win the sponsored place and then email to

Closing date is 5pm on Monday 23rd September.

Competition T&C’s: 

  • You must be an individual member of the Institute of Water
  • You can become a member at
  • You must be able to attend all 3 days of Weekend School (9am on Thursday 10th October – 3pm on Saturday 12th October)
  • You must be willing to have your photo taken and provide a quote for WLLS regarding your sponsored place
  • Accommodation is provided on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th October
  • If you require accommodation on Wednesday 9th October, you will need to pay an additional charge of £119
  • Travel expenses are not included
  • Any entries received after 5pm on Monday 23rd September will not be considered
  • All decisions are final


Good Luck!

Kind Regards, 

South East Area 

Southern Water is one of the first companies to be given a new-fast track approval process for engineering works which might affect the habitats of rare or protected species.

The licence from Natural England, the Government’s adviser for the natural environment, means a quicker approval process for engineering projects and development in recognition of high quality work protecting vulnerable wildlife, including dormice, badgers and crested newts.

We are one of the first four out of 17 major water companies in England and Wales to receive an ‘organisational licence’. The company will continue to carry out the same level of care and scrutiny and will continue to report on outcomes to Natural England.

“From a business point of view and investment in the environment, this will mean that work on key schemes will start sooner and there will be less bureaucracy but that is not the important point for me,” said Ian McAulay, Chief Executive, “We’re delighted to have this gesture of trust in our stewardship of the habitats and wildlife living in them. I am very proud that our efforts to be a friend of the environment and to stick to the best possible practice in everything we do has been recognised by Natural England.”

Whenever Southern Water undertakes a new project, it conducts a careful ecological survey to analyse the wildlife living in the area. The emphasis is placed on sensitive or protected species and if precious animals such as great crested newts or dormice are found then no work starts until a careful plan to prevent and mitigate any possible damage to habitats.

“This is fantastic news for Southern Water but especially for our ecologists and environmental advisors who work in close harmony with Natural England. I know I speak for everyone in the company when I say the reduced paperwork and new way of working will actually increase protection of our important species and habitats” said Dr Nicola Meakins, Southern Water’s Environmental Manager.

Andrew Smith, Natural England Area Manager for Thames, Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said:

“Natural England is pleased to have worked with Southern Water over the last year to develop this Organisational Licence, which will benefit both Southern Water and Natural England by removing the need for numerous individual licences. The licence has been issued based on Southern Water’s experience in working with mitigation licences; avoiding impacts where possible and designing mitigation strategies that follow best practice for the species.

“The development of new strategic licences, such as this, is part of Natural England’s licensing improvement work to reduce our regulatory processes and we are hoping to work with more water utility companies.”

Some of the registration and renewal fees of the Professional Registrations that we administrate will increase from the 1st January 2019.

These fees are decided by the Professional Bodies and not the Institute of Water.

The fees for 2019 are:

Environment Registration Fees by the Society for the Environment

  • For Chartered Environmentalists (CEnv), the new registration fee will be £86 and the annual renewal fee will be £43.
  • For Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech), the new registration fee will be £40 and the annual renewal fee will be £20.

Engineering Registration Fees by the Engineering Council

  • For Chartered Engineer (CEng), the new registration fee will be £51.90 and the annual renewal fee will be £39.90.
  • For Incorporated Engineer (IEng), the new registration fee will be £43.80 and the annual renewal fee will be £33.80.
  • For Engineering Technician (EngTech), the new registration fee will be £17.90 and the annual renewal fee will be £19.40.

Registration and renewal fees by the Science Council for all science registrations will remain unchanged for 2019.

You’ll also be pleased to hear that there will be no increase in Institute of Water Membership fees.