Improvement programme for water services
The map below shows the number of unique utilities per geographic cluster, which participated at least once over the last 5 years in one of EBCs’ benchmarking programmes.
From 13 – 15 November 2019, participants in the IB2018 benchmarking exercise for Western Europe gathered in Helsinki, Finland for the 13th edition of the annual benchmarking workshop. 75 Representatives from across Europe and beyond, including guests of the European Investment Bank and the Finnish association FIWA, participated in a smooth workshop which was co-organised with host company HSY.
On Friday 13 September, EBC together with Va Syd and Waternet organized the second Knowledge Picnic in Malmö (Sweden). 17 participants from 7 different utilities gathered to discuss about sustainability. The UN Sustainable Development Goals formed a central part in this discussion and acted as a guidance.
Water utilties usually use electricity for the abstraction, treatment and distribution of water. Electricity consumption is influenced by the type of water resources, geography, and treatment processes. Pumps are the bulk consumers of electricity in water supply, which makes their efficiency key in efforts to reduce consumption. For the current group of utilities in EBC's Western European programme the median electricity use for production and distribution is 0,51 kWh/m3.
Water is a basic necessity, and customers usually do not have real alternatives to their local water supplier. This dependence places a responsibility on water companies to ensure that their product is affordable. Hence, EBC measures the social sustainability of the drinking water services by showing the water bill as a share of household consumption expenditures. Since 2013, the median value for affordability shows a declining (positive) trend for the group of utilities in EBC's Western European programme.
Globally, water demand is rising and resources are diminishing. Water losses from distribution networks (physical as well as administrative) can reach high levels in some cities. Reduction of these losses can contribute to diminishing water stress. Several utilities in the EBC group report good results in reducing distribution losses over the past five years. In the current year the median of the shown group of utilities is 5,3 m3 / km / day.
EBC’s benchmarking programme measures environmental sustainability with several indicators. Examples are the electricity used for treating wastewater, generating electricity from sludge digestion and biogas production or the percentage of the sludge generated in the treatment process that is utilized in a sustainable way. For the Western European group of utilities in the EBC benchmarking programme the median value of electricity usage for wastewater treatment is 29,9 kWh per population equivalent served by the wastewater treatment plant. The energy consumption of the wastewater treatment plants can differ depending on the level of treatment, which in turn depends on the local discharge consents.
The EBC programme measures the social sustainability of wastewater services by calculating the share of the wastewater bill in household consumption expenditures. This measure gives an impression of the affordability of the wastewater services, accounting for differences in wealth between nations. Since 2013 the median value for affordability shows a declining (positive) trend for the group of utilities in EBC's Western European programme.
To be able to return wastewater safely to the environment or reuse it, it has to be treated thoroughly. The treatment process removes organic and inorganic solids from the liquid waste stream and reduces dissolved and suspended matter (nutrients). Some utilities in EBC's Western European group report a clear improvement of the treatment performance over the past five years. In the current year the median of the shown group of utilities is 92%.
EBC’s benchmarking- and improvement programme offers participants a comprehensive analysis of the performance of its utility in comparison with colleague utilities from across Europe. This “fitness check” helps participants finding improvement areas and -priorities in a structured and objective way.
EBC offers a learning-orientated benchmarking programme. Participants to the benchmarking exercise will be able to compare the performance of their own utility with that of peers and collect objective performance information for use in communication to stakeholders.
Since its start in 2007, more than 220 utlities participated in one of EBC's benchmarking programmes. Together they serve millions of customers with water- and wastewater services.
Since 2007, EBC annually organises benchmarking exercises for water- and wastewater utilities operating in Western Europe. Goal of the international benchmarking exercise is to assist drinking water- and wastewater utilities in their continuous efforts to improve their services by benchmarking.
Local associations, EBC Foundation and Danube Water Program have joined forces on several regional benchmarking programmes.
In December 2018 the IB2017 benchmarking exercise for Western Europe ended. The exercise attracted 44 utilities from 20 different countries. For stakeholder communication, a public report has been prepared to highlight the results of the exercise.
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