Yorkshire Water boss: Our investment will benefit the region

Yorkshire Water has unveiled a multi-million pound investment package to improve its supply to customers, a move its boss said will create 300 new jobs and make the region a more attractive proposition for investors.

The Bradford-based utilities supplier said it wants to become a top performer in the water sector and as such is investing in new roles and technologies to identify leaks and other disruptions before they occur.

The business has set itself ambitious targets to reduce sewage escapes causing pollution by 40 per cent, incidents resulting in internal sewer flooding by 70 per cent and the average interruption to water supply to fall by two thirds.

These improvements are to be delivered before the start of the next five-year investment period in 2020.

Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint told The Yorkshire Post that the measures would give the region greater resilience in terms of ensuring continuity of supply and would give business a competitive edge over places with greater pressures on resources.

“We want an invisible service,” he said.

“Customers have busy lives. Clean water is just a basic thing that people need in order to run their lives. Equally it is great for the economy. If you have got water capacity in changing climatic conditions, which is clearly happening, then it makes the region more attractive a place to invest because by what we are doing we can create headroom in terms of water resilience and preventing incidences of flooding.

“If you look across the country, in the south east in particular there is great pressure on water resource. The benefits of being in Yorkshire, with the resilience we have got and the greater headroom we are going to create, is an attractive economic proposition for investment.”

The recruitment drive will open up opportunities for 50 leakage inspectors, engineers, sewer technicians and data scientists and analysts at Yorkshire Water and its contract partners.

There will also be a significant investment in technology. Around 15,000 ‘acoustic ears’ will be installed at key locations in its water network, helping to listen to the flow of water and detect leaks faster within just three hours rather than the current average of three days.

A further 8,000 devices will be installed on the sewer network, providing information on the condition of the pipes and helping to prevent pollution incidents.

Electro-magnetic valves in water pipes that can be remotely controlled will also make it easier to cope with spikes in water demand without affecting water pressure. The use of drones and satellite imaging from space will improve the detection of underground leaks.

Mr Flint said: ”One of the specific objectives we have is to enhance service. It is already good, we are strong comparative to across the country, but this investment will take us to having the lowest level of supply interruptions in the country.

“It will take us to the frontier of performance, which is something our customers, household or retail, deserve.”