Northumbrian Water has secured more than £6m to progress four exciting innovation projects, set to improve its service for customers and help protect the environment.

The funding has been granted as part an industry-wide innovation competition, called the Water Breakthrough Challenge – run by water regulator Ofwat.


The four different initiatives, which will each receive a share of the money, include; the Water Literacy Programme; the Hydro-powered Smart Meter; the Root Defender, and Stream.


The Water Literacy Programme will be an accredited learning experience providing influential stakeholders with a greater understanding of the value of water, improved awareness of links between water use and the environment, and the techniques to empower positive behaviour change in reducing water consumption.


The Hydro-powered Smart Meter is a water meter which will be fitted in customers’ existing meter chambers and use mains water pressure to power it, instead of batteries.


This means continuous and real-time consumption data, which often leads to less water usage in households, as well as enabling the water company to identify and respond to leaks more rapidly.


Both of these projects will not only help customers to save water, but will also help them to reduce their water and energy bills too.


Funding for the Root Defender project will help further develop a gel solution which aims to prevent tree roots from damaging the sewer network, leading to flooding and pollution.


The final project, known as Stream, will see an open data-sharing platform created which will eventually allow all of the UK water companies to share data with one another, other utilities companies, and the wider public.


Northumbrian Water’s projects are four of 16 solutions being awarded a share of £40 million today in the competition.


Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, said: “Protecting our environment is a top priority for us.


“Whether that’s working with customers to manage our precious water resources more effectively through the Hydro-powered Smart meter or the Water Literacy Programme, or minimising the damage that tree roots can have on our sewer network, the funding granted by Ofwat will bring a real boost.


“All four projects we’re working on will bring benefits for our customers across the region and we’re so proud that we’ve secured funding for each one – I can’t wait to see how they develop.” 


David Black, CEO at Ofwat said: “The water sector has faced mounting pressure over systemic challenges related to the environment and society, while the climate around us continues to drastically change shape.


“That’s why we’re funding ground-breaking innovations with potential to help us save and reuse water and wastewater products, while supporting wider society.”


The Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, run by Challenge Works with Arup and Isle Utilities, designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment.


Previous rounds of the competition have already seen numerous innovative projects win funding for their potential to benefit customers, society and the environment through solutions that introduce rainwater storage systems to local communities and minimise water demand in new building projects.


More information about the winners of the Water Breakthrough Challenge can be found here: