Blog29 June 2023

Water management legislation: Sink or swim for UK businesses

With the need for sustainable environmental practice at heightened levels, Jonathan King, Technical Manager at Sykes Pumps, outlines the importance of customers staying on the right side of current water treatment laws.

Water treatment processes play a crucial role in preserving our planet and promoting greener ways of working. It is essential for companies to mitigate their ecological impact and contribute to a cleaner, healthier existence, ensuring compliance with regulations set by regulators. For England and Wales, the laws are contained in the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, and for Scotland, in the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations 2011 (known as the Controlled Activities Regulations or ‘CAR’).

To comply with the regulations in England, for example, sites must adhere to the Environment Agency’s Temporary Dewatering from Excavations to Surface Water Regulatory Position Statement (RPS). However, the criteria to meet the RPS is narrow, and most sites will likely require a bespoke permit.

In simple terms, it is an offence to discharge any polluting substances (acid, silt and sediment, among others) to controlled waters without the necessary permits from regulators. The Environment Agency or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have considerable influence and will pursue legal action against organisations who fail to take appropriate measures – with several high-profile cases making national news in recent weeks.

There has never been a greater emphasis on fostering gold standards as far as water treatment is concerned, and the advantages of doing so are plentiful:

Protecting Water Resources:

Water is a precious resource, and its conservation is vital for both ecosystems and human populations. By implementing effective water treatment processes, companies can reduce the pollution of water bodies and ensure the availability of clean water for various purposes, including drinking, agriculture, and industry. Following the correct treatment procedures prevents contaminants from entering water sources, protecting aquatic life, and preserving biodiversity.

Regulatory Compliance:

As already touched upon, environmental agencies set specific regulations and standards to safeguard the environment and human health. Compliance with these regulations is not only a legal requirement but also demonstrates a company’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship. Properly following water treatment processes ensures that organisations meet the required standards, minimising the risk of fines, penalties, and other consequences.

Pollution Prevention:

Water treatment processes help avert pollution by removing harmful substances from wastewater before it is directed into the environment. Through processes like filtration, sedimentation, and chemical treatments, pollutants such as heavy metals, organic compounds, and pathogens can be effectively removed or neutralised. By adhering to these processes, companies can significantly reduce their impact on surrounding ecosystems and prevent long-term damage to water bodies.

Enhancing Corporate Reputation:

In today’s environmentally conscious society, consumers, investors, and stakeholders increasingly value companies that prioritise environmental responsibility. Adhering to water treatment processes and complying with environmental regulations helps build a positive corporate image. Demonstrating commitment to sustainable practices can foster brand loyalty, create new opportunities and strengthen a company’s status both within their sector and more broadly.

At Sykes Pumps, we understand that water treatment and environmental obligations are critical concerns for commercial enterprises, government entities, and, actually, society as a whole. That’s why we are proud to reinforce our pledge to provide our customers with the equipment they need to fulfil their own duties.

Few would argue that Sykes is a household name in our industry, but we asked Jonathan King what it is that differentiates us from other pump companies.

Without hesitation, he clarified: “In a nutshell, it’s that we can offer a complete solution in any scenario – and not many other suppliers can truly say that. Our range starts with industrial settlement tanks and Silt Away units, but we can also offer customers advanced chemical water treatment systems – so there’s no project we can’t handle.

“With the issue of effective water management so high on the agenda, we recognise a continual need to evolve. That’s why we’re investing in research and seeking innovative alternatives to supplement what’s currently available on the market.

“Our expanding water treatment capability is indicative of both the standards we hold ourselves to as a business, and our priorities going forward.”

You might be wondering exactly what the process is for handling a requirement of this nature, and what we – Sykes Pumps – are accountable for.

“Everything – from start to finish,” explains Jonathan.

“To give you a recent example: Dungeness nuclear power station is being decommissioned and part of the project involves dewatering below ground culverts. Following an Environmental Risk Assessment undertaken by the client, it was ascertained that water from the culverts did not have suspended solids but was high in pH.

“As there was no requirement to address any suspended solids in this instance, a chemical treatment solution was not required. Instead, we deployed an OSSO WTS20 water treatment unit that monitored and remedied the high pH.

“When water enters the pH correction chamber, it is measured by a probe. If the pH is above 8.5 then the unit itself will dose CO2 by diffusing it into the water and creating carbonic acid which lowers the pH in a controlled manner to within the discharge criteria range.

“To transfer the high pH water to the OSSO WTS20 treatment unit, we supplied a 4” super silent pump along with various valves and fittings to ensure the flow rate allowed sufficient retention for pH correction.

“What’s more, the client was able to monitor the discharge from the unit in real time so were constantly reassured that it was meeting the specified criteria.

“This is just one of countless examples in which we have provided a bespoke, turnkey solution for a very common application, and it’s something we do very well. Legislative bodies have, quite rightly, created a culture of holding contractors accountable for their actions, and we see it as our job to eliminate the potential for reputational harm, financial consequences and avoidable environmental damage.

“If your reputation suffers, so does ours. In fact, it wouldn’t be remiss to say it’s that pressure that means we’ll always handle water treatment assignments diligently and with the utmost professionalism.”