The operational performance of a water company is inextricably linked to weather conditions. The Met Office have worked with the industry to make companies resilient, competitive and sustainable.
In the last few years alone, the UK has witnessed extremes of intense cold and snow, years of below average rainfall and localised torrential downpours from thunderstorms. The cold winter of 2008/9 saw a fourfold increase in burst pipes across the UK's water network, and the following two winters also resulted in significant increases in leakage and pipe bursts. This year, we have seen a winter with above average temperatures followed by the wettest April on record and the wettest summer in 100 years. This presents a considerable challenge to the water industry's operations and strategies.
To help the industry be prepared to deal with all the British weather can throw at it, we have worked closely with water companies to combine weather information with water industry data so proactive decisions can be made when adverse weather is forecast.
We have seen a significant trend within the industry to move from post-event analysis to pro-active impact based services. As Stephen Herndlhofer, Manager of Risk & Analytics at Yorkshire Water points out: "The risk from extreme weather to the operational and financial performance of our business, as evidenced by recent events, does appear to be increasing. We need to respond with more proactive, integrated and considered mitigation plans, including systems which make more effective use of raw meteorological data."
Earlier this year, we joined forces with Thames Water to launch a suite of weather intelligence models. The models enable the weather component of leakage, burst, demand and seasonal night use to be understood and addressed. Periods of cold winter weather always lead to an increase in the number of bursts in the water distribution network when temperatures drop below a certain threshold. The burst model uses weather forecast information to calculate the number of bursts across a region, so enabling network managers to target resources in areas of high risk.
This burst model can be used in conjunction with our leakage model to provide a complete winter modelling service. This calculates the effects of cold and dry weather on leakage by using weather scenarios to predict changes in leakage and allows the company to test their management plans. The greatest benefit to the industry is the increased confidence it can give in hitting targets set by OFWAT and the avoidance of unnecessary and costly leakage reduction activity.
Our continued aim is to work in partnership. Our expertise in weather and climate and its impacts mean we can offer bespoke consultancy providing answers to those important questions. Our operational services then give on-going support across the business helping you make those important daily decisions. It is this understanding that really helps the water industry explore what to expect from weather conditions now and in the future - and how best to face them.
Read an extended article in Utility Week.
Weather intelligence model trials - we are looking for water companies to trial these weather intelligence models. Contact email@example.com to find out how they could benefit your business.
Last updated: 12 December 2012
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