The European Benchmarking Co-operation (EBC Foundation) is a not-for-profit sector initiative to improve drinking water- & wastewater services:
On 16 May 2023 a group of experts from 11 frontrunner utilities from across Europe gathered in Hamburg for a Knowledge Picnic on Sustainability Reporting.
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 0.49 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. For the group of participants in IB2021 the median affordability is 0.40%.
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 6.3 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 32 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. For the group of participants in IB2021 the median affordability is 0.37%.
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 94%.
Participants gain insight in potential improvement areas, industry best practices and innovations through extensive, annual benchmarking exercises and knowledge exchange events.
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EBC offers drinking water- & wastewater utilities in Europe and beyond a leading improvement- and knowledge exchange programme.
Since the start in 2007, some 250 utilities from more than 45 different countries have participated in the EBC's international benchmarking programme. Together these utilities provide drinking water- and wastewater services to a significant number of customers in Europe.
Interested in how they experienced their participation? You'll find it here.
Since 2007, EBC annually organises benchmarking exercises for drinking water- and wastewater utilities in Europe and beyond. Goal of these international benchmarking exercises is to assist water utilities in their continuous efforts to improve their services by benchmarking and learning from each other.
Next to offering a benchmarking programme for European utilities, EBC is or has been involved in several regional benchmarking initiatives, in close collaboration with local partners.
For the purpose of transparency and stakeholder communication EBC annually publishes a public report about its European benchmarking programme. This report shows ranges and median values of 36 key indicators for drinking water- and wastewater services, development trends over 3-5 years, as well as good practices & participants' experiences. Here you'll find the latest report.
Based on active discussions and interest shown by participants in sustainability reporting during the workshop in Krakow, it was decided to hold a third Knowledge Picnic on Sustainability reporting: SDGs & CSRD on May 16, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany.
Call to Register IB2022
Public report IB2021
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