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Developing a sustainable energy strategy for a water utility. Part I: a review of the UK legislative framework

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Increasing political effort to improve water quality across the UK and Europe has led to water and sewerage companies investing heavily in high-tech wastewater treatment plants capable of producing high quality effluents. Consequently, amounts of bought-in electricity used for wastewater treatment has and will continue to increase significantly over coming years, while greater provision of enhanced sewage treatment also produces greater volumes of sewage sludge requiring treatment and disposal. Over the same period, tougher controls on the quality of biosolids applied to agricultural land have also been introduced, while there has been an international attempt to reduce the use of fossil-fuel derived power sources because of concerns over global warming. The latter has brought about the introduction of financial instruments, such as the Climate Change Levy, to curb energy use, promote energy efficiency and encourage the development of renewable energy technologies. These factors are set to drive-up the costs of providing adequate sewage treatment services, while at the same time, a tough regulatory line taken to control profits on regional monopolies held by the UK water companies will significantly reduce their revenues over the period 2000–05. The result is that, financially, UK water and sewerage companies face their most challenging period since privatisation in 1989. This paper briefly outlines the current regulations relating to water quality and energy use that will affect water company operations over coming years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume66
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2002

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