Case Study: Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

March 22, 2017
Yorkshire Water Services Ltd - Responsible Business Award

Responsible Business Award 2014 - Big Tick

Yorkshire Water is striving for long term sustainability by reducing carbon emissions, leakage and sewage flooding, while improving its infrastructure and keeping water services affordable.

Social impacts

  • Has cut carbon emissions by 10% since 2010/11 – 45,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – by increasing efficiency and generating renewable energy. The company has achieved the Carbon Trust Standard.
  • Saved 35 million litres of water per day by reducing leakage and inspiring customers to use water and sewers wisely, including giving away more than 38,500 free water saving devices in 2013/14.
  • Has invested in a resilient water supply network, with a flexible grid system which moves water to where it is needed, as well as protecting 270 homes from sewer flooding since 2010.

Business impacts

  • Maintained affordable water services safeguards the future of the business. The company has plans to ensure average water bills will not rise above inflation before 2020, and measures to help customers experiencing financial difficulties.
  • By improving operational efficiency and generating its own energy, Yorkshire Water is reducing its reliance on volatile energy markets and the risk of fluctuating prices.
  • Maintaining the quality of raw water helps reduce the cost of treatment and the use of chemicals and energy, improving sustainability and reducing demands on resources.

The essence of our vision is doing what is right for our customers, colleagues, partners and the environment – and that will never change.

- Richard Flint,
CEO, Yorkshire Water
Sustainability is critical for the long term viability of Yorkshire Water’s business and its essential water and waste water services. It is at the heart of its vision: ‘Taking responsibility for the water environment for good’ and informs its strategic business objectives.

The company is transforming its business and preparing for long term challenges, including the need to serve 855,000 more people in Yorkshire by 2040, in a changing climate, at an affordable price.

Extreme weather and climate change are top priority for the business because the weather influences customer services, employee well-being, reputation and the bottom line. They are main factors affecting the balance between water supply and demand.

The company has a 25-year Water Resources Management Plan, which aims to save water by reducing both leakage and customer demand. It is saving 35 million litres of water a day (MLD) and plans to reduce leakage by an additional ten MLD over the next five years, with a programme to reduce demand by 44.78 MLD over 25 years. By investing in a flexible water supply grid, Yorkshire Water can move water around the region to where it is most needed, which means it can protect areas experiencing low rainfall.

The weather also affects the safe disposal of waste water, Yorkshire Water’s other core service. The company is working in partnership with other agencies and broadening its response options. For example, it is investigating surface water management techniques which can turn flood water into a valuable resource. It is also using cutting-edge modelling to map the risks for the entire region.

Yorkshire Water is one of the region's biggest users of electricity. Water quality legislation is driving it to build new, more energy intensive processes to treat water and sewage. The company is investing in efficiency measures and renewable energy, for example by turning sewage waste into energy. It has reduced carbon emissions by 11% since 2008/09. As well as being better for the environment, this reduces reliance on volatile energy markets, which can lead to price increases for customers.

As one of the largest land owners in Yorkshire, management of land ecology is key to Yorkshire Water. By managing land in an appropriate way and influencing other landowners, the company can improve the quality and quantity of raw water collected. Maintaining the quality of raw water helps reduce the use of chemicals and energy, and the cost of treatment.

“For me, good corporate social responsibility has always been about the effective and efficient operation of our business. It’s about getting the balance right so that we can best serve the interests of our customers, the environment and society at large.

“We have six strategic business objectives which are our commitment to sustainability. They ensure we can provide essential water and waste service to our customers across Yorkshire.

“We’re doing all this against a backdrop of significant economic, social and environmental change. The essence of our vision is doing what is right for our customers, colleagues, partners and the environment – and that will never change.”  Richard Flint, CEO, Yorkshire Water

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