Northumbrian Water has been giving the backing to launch a brand-new project that will see customer bills and carbon emissions reduced by December 2025.

The project, called ‘Fair Water’, has been chosen as one of the winners in Ofwat’s £36m Water Breakthrough Challenge and has been awarded £3.8m of funding to get started.


Northumbrian Water will be working alongside partners at Newcastle University, National Energy Action, Procter & Gamble and Northern Gas Networks to reduce water use and energy emissions for customers significantly within the next four years helping to bring payments down for billpayers.


The water company says that addressing water use and energy emissions with customers can be difficult, as many current solutions come at a cost and involve disruption to customers both in their homes and in their daily habits.


However, through project ‘Fair Water’ it will develop affordable solutions that work for a wide range of customers living in a variety of existing housing types, with minimal disruption to homes or habits.


This will be done by evaluating consumer products already being used, co-creating and developing new solutions, and improving behavioural change and technology-based solutions to enable customers to reduce water and energy use and carbon emissions.


The outcomes from the project will be used to benefit customers across England and Wales by enabling them to use water and energy more efficiently and therefore reducing their household bills and carbon impact.


The knowledge gained during the project will also help minimise disruption caused to customers’ homes when fitting water and energy saving products into their homes.


Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, said: “This unique collaboration brings knowledge, resources and connections – which are essential for the co-creation of solutions for customers.


“Along with our partners we will develop products and services that enable delivery at scale, and will also support customers, including the vulnerable and hard-to-reach, through changes that will deliver a better quality of life for them, and the outcomes that society needs.


“This will be an incredibly important project. It will not only drive us towards our net zero targets but will also help to improve the quality of life for our customers – which is why we are extremely proud that we have been granted this funding by Ofwat.”


John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said: “Each of the winners contribute to the resilience, sustainability and effectiveness of the water sector in the years to come for the benefit of customers across the country. Thank you to the independent judging panel for its challenge and insight in recommending these impressive winners.”


Holly Jamieson, New Frontiers Director, Nesta Challenges said: “The cross-sectoral collaborations established by water companies, academia, engineering and technology sectors in response to the Water Breakthrough Challenge are hugely impressive. From turning sewage into a valuable natural resource to the smart use of open data to reduce negative environmental impacts and reduce costs for water customers, today’s funding is an exciting step for the water industry in the UK. I congratulate all of the winners and look forward to seeing them deliver their projects in the months and years to come.”


To find out more about the winners, and find out how to enter the second Water Breakthrough Challenge from Ofwat, Nesta Challenges and Arup, visit: 


Newcastle University: 

Boguslaw Obara, Professor of Image Informatics, Newcastle University School of Computing, said: “This is a great opportunity to bring together Newcastle University’s partners, NWG, P&G and NGN under one collaborative project partnering with NEAA that draws together different research areas which have an impact on domestic users and consumers’ daily lives.  We are very excited to be able to develop our research alongside industry to help resolve and find innovative solutions for future generations."


National Energy Action: 

Jess Cook, who leads the water poverty programme at NEA (National Energy Action) said:


“Our consortium provides us with a vast range of views and expertise, from managing water resources, to developing new detergents which can save water and energy. We want to use that knowledge and range of experience to understand how we can bring everyone with us on the journey to net zero, and develop tailored pathways based on their household characteristics and needs. We can’t focus on one solution; this needs to be collaborative and holistic in order to succeed.”


Northern Gas Networks: 

Keith Owen, Head of Systems Development and Energy Strategy at Northern Gas Networks said “We’re delighted to be a partner and welcome the project to InTEGReL, our specialist research facility to tackle all aspects of energy use and the transition to Net Zero. We understand that use of water and energy are inextricably linked and are passionate about supporting those who struggle to pay their utility charges by helping them reduce usage and manage their bills.”