Whole-life-cycle approach to WINEP delivery – How can we maximise the benefits?

The Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) is a set of actions that the Environment Agency has asked all 20 water companies operating in England to complete between 2020 and 2025 in order to contribute towards meeting their environmental obligations. The actions consider long-term regulatory strategic objectives and include various types of scheme drivers, including bathing waters, groundwater abstraction and the Water Framework Directive. The broad scope of schemes and investigations that make up the WINEP portfolio lends itself to innovation from multisector opportunities and a whole-life-cycle methodology.

Our approach to improving WINEP delivery

Binnies is part of the RSK group, which is one of the UK’s largest environmental and water services providers. Our modelling and environmental teams are currently working together to deliver more than £2 million in WINEP OPEX and UPM programmes for Thames Water. This experience has inspired us to think differently about WINEP delivery by looking at a whole-life-cycle approach that focuses on identifying risks and opportunities during the earliest stages of a WINEP scheme. This gives us the maximum time to make a difference throughout the life of a project by assessing our clients’ assets and advising where gaps may be limiting the opportunity to maximise benefit.

Our whole-life-cycle approach to WINEP

Figure 1. WINEP Whole-life-cycle delivery

The targets the WINEP programme sets out present opportunities to consider catchment management approaches early in the feasibility stage while applying whole life-cycle thinking. Our technical experts are coming together to ensure optimal delivery of the WINEP programme, so we have identified five areas where technical alignment brings best value (Figure 1):

1. Catchment management to reduce down-the-line expenditure

Using bespoke modelling techniques to assess catchment mitigation strategies enables us to look upstream to address the issue at source, and thus minimise pollution and the impact on receiving water quality and, subsequently, reduce water treatment costs and the need for end-of-pipe solutions. This approach, applied in our Wetland Carbon Code project, means likely reductions in scope and costs for downstream solutions and presents opportunities for cross-sector solutions.

2. Hydraulic modelling to assess the root cause of the issue

Considering the interaction of multiple systems is becoming ever more important to fully understand the root causes of catchment issues. Developing integrated catchment models, such as those created for the River Poddle Flood Alleviation Scheme, provides the tools to enable better quantification of risk. As we enhance our models to incorporate water quality analysis into fully hydrodynamic model simulations, the development of truly optimised solutions to address WINEP drivers becomes increasingly efficient.

3. Treatment process understanding and technical development

Working with our clients to provide innovative solutions during the conceptual and detailed design stages ensures that informed decisions mitigate process risks and identify opportunities while considering sustainable investment decisions. For Merthyr Super-Works, we developed a strategy for the new treatment works to replace three ageing assets and incorporated design characteristics and resilience to futureproof the scheme.

4. Construction expertise providing benefits through lessons learned

Knowledge of the construction techniques applied on projects such as Davyhulme, where we challenged the outline concept solution layouts to improve process plant arrangements and land usage, means that benefits can be achieved early in the design development phase. Drawing on the detailed knowledge of our construction professionals means that this is effective and efficient and ensures a whole-life-cycle view from project outset.

5. Blue–green infrastructure to feed into a more holistic view

The RSK group’s capabilities in bioengineering, habitat enhancement and catchment-based solutions have been demonstrated during work such as on Salix’s Yearl Weir project and enable us to consider green infrastructure approaches across the project life cycle. This wider expertise, alongside Binnies’ engineering and technical services teams, provides the opportunity to consider the optimum catchment-wide solution, enhance biodiversity and provide benefits to wider stakeholders.

From growing plant species in-house to identifying areas for utilising alternative treatment options, we want to focus on the bigger picture that really considers the complete environment at the local, regional and national levels. We want to share benefits and lessons learned with the industry while delivering less to get more. Future WINEP insights will focus on each of the five areas we have introduced in this article, starting with a detailed and thought-provoking piece on the benefits of applying detailed hydraulic modelling techniques.

Project references

Wetland Carbon Code (confidential client) – Binnies is working collaboratively with the University of Bangor to evaluate the indirect carbon benefits of wetlands to the water industry in terms of avoided carbon costs for both clean water treatment and offsetting for wastewater discharges. This work has involved modelling the effectiveness of wetlands at removing key contaminants from rivers and developing an approach for assessing the associated water quality improvements.

River Poddle Flood Alleviation Scheme (South Dublin City Council) – In a joint venture between Nicolas O’Dwyer and Binnies (both RSK companies), catchment modelling was undertaken to understand the existing flood risk in the River Poddle catchment. An integrated catchment model was developed that incorporated the open watercourse, the surface water network and the overland flows. It was used to assess a series of mitigation options so that an economic assessment could be carried out to determine the preferred option.

Merthyr Super-Works (Welsh Water) – This strategic water supply project comprised a new water treatment works at Merthyr and raw and treated water network connectivity. The whole project, which is valued at almost £300 million, represents the single largest investment Welsh Water has proposed in recent years. Binnies originally produced conceptual investigations and outline feasibility studies for this project in 2012. Welsh Water then called on Binnies to undertake a complete review of the project and provide supporting evidence for its PR19 submission to Ofwat.

Davyhulme (United Utilities) – The £75 million sludge treatment scheme at Davyhulme Wastewater Treatment Works in Manchester is one of the world’s largest design-and-build thermal heat and power projects. Binnies provided engineering, procurement and construction services for the project and co-located an in-house design team to produce the detailed civil and mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, control and automation designs and fully utilise 3D modelling techniques.

Salix’s Yearl Weir (United Utilities) – The winter floods of 2009 and 2015 led to significant erosion along the River Derwent close to Yearl Weir, thereby increasing the risk of flooding. A bioengineering solution was developed as a direct alternative to hard engineering to protect this key asset. Subsequently, the vegetation has fully established with an abundance of native species. The solution will sustainably protect the bank while offering substantial environmental benefits as the trees continue to establish.

Claire Watson is a Chartered Engineer and Delivery Director for Binnies’ water utilities business, with 20 years’ experience working with water utilities clients in the UK and overseas. Her technical background is in water industry projects, specifically network modelling, where she was previously the Network Modelling Lead for Binnies. Having recently transitioned out of this role to focus on Binnies’ wider project delivery, Claire draws on her subject matter expertise in integrated network modelling to provide strategic direction to our modelling teams and support the delivery of projects such as Thames’ WINEP OPEX and UPM programmes.

About Binnies

At Binnies, we create new possibilities for humanity through our innovative approach to delivery. Backed by a culture that has stayed true since our founding over 100 years ago, Binnies develops intelligent water and environmental solutions using a whole lifecycle approach to deliver functional infrastructure and lasting environmental and social legacies. We strive to continue to elevate the quality of life for our local communities today and for generations to come.

Binnies is an RSK Group Company and was formerly part of Black & Veatch.

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About the RSK Group (RSK)

RSK is a leading, integrated, environmental, engineering and technical services group comprised of over 100 businesses.   The group is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has an established presence in more than 40 countries around the world.

For over 30 years, RSK has been helping organisations realise their business goals efficiently, cost-effectively and with the minimum environmental and social impact. We deliver practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. As a client-focused business, our services are constantly evolving to directly respond to or pre-empt global conditions and legislative drivers.

Visit www.rskgroup.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as we continue to forge a stronger future together.

Media contacts

Binnies UK

Angela Collins Tel: +44 (0)1737 856399 | Mobile: +44 (0)7391 639733 | Email: collinsa@binnies.com