Een ogenblik geduld a.u.b.

IB2018 Benchmarking Workshop: a retrospect

author: Tom Bijkerk

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.

HSY (Helsingin Seudun Ympäristöpalvelut), the water- and wastewater utility of Helsinki, kindly offered to sponsor and host this year’s workshop. 75 Delegates representing 25 water utilities from 15 different countries gathered in Helsinki to discuss common challenges, the new benchmarking reporting, best practices and experiences.

This year the workshop mainly focussed on 3 themes: resilience, energy efficiency & the Sustainable Development goals. The workshop kicked-of with a short reflection on the current benchmarking cycle and EBC’s activities in the past year. It continued with a ‘setting the scene’ session, in which Jyrki Kaija (HSY & President of FIWA) and Marco Beros (European Investment Bank) took up the challenge to warm-up the group and underline the importance of the event in addressing/discussing challenges and best practices together.


Groupphoto IB2018 workshop participants


After the plenary sessions it was time to get to work! The second half of the day focussed on sharing best practices and experiences. Interesting sessions and lively discussions followed, targeting:

  • Resilience; Presentations and examples on continuity management, stormwater management, resicilience action plans by HSY (Finland), Hamburg Wasser (Germany), DIAM (Oman) & Bristol Water (UK)
  • Energy efficiency; Cases from SWDE (Belgium) & HSY (Finland))
  • EBCs’ new company reporting
  • SDGs’/Sustainability; Presentations, input and examples from Waternet, VA SYD, Canal de Isabel II (Spain) and Bristol Water (UK).  
  • Utility management & Operational excellence; Presentations and examples by WML (The Netherlands), MPWiK Wroclaw (Poland) & hanseWasser Bremen (Germany). 


Impression IB2018 workshop break-out sessions


The first day of the workshop ended with the traditional benchmarking dinner and the “Benchmarking Co-ordinator of the Year Awards” Congratulations to Jorik Chen from Waternet (The Netherlands) and James Holman from Bristol Water plc (United Kingdom) and their teams of course!!


'Benchmarking Co-ordinator of the Year' awarding ceremony


The Award was introduced years ago for the joy of the participants but became a tradition with a serious note. The role of the benchmarking co-ordinator is key in the success of the programme. Data quality, reliability and knowledge sharing increase exponentially with an active and engaged co-ordinator. The awarding ceremony is thé moment to underline this important role.

The EBC-team congratulates the winners of this year’s award and encourages them to continue their good work!

Day 2 of EBC’s annual benchmarking workshop started with a short recap of the various break-out sessions of day 1, before the group divided over more break-out sessions, addressing best practices on resilience, utility management and more. The knowledge sharing didn’t stop above ground, as the day ended with a site-visit to the impressive Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant. 16 Hectares underground carved in the granite rock bottom. We owe Marina Graan & Paula Lindell many thanks for guiding the groups around! It was not only impressive to see the plant but also to learn about the significant technological achievements in terms of high effluent quality and high energy efficiency. Together with experiencing the cold weather in Helsinki, the visit definitively contributed to a better understanding among participants of the different operating environments in which utilities operate across Europe and how they respond to the local challenges.


Site visit to Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant


The Helsinki workshop was a very fruitful event with lively discussions, networking opportunities, knowledge sharing and concrete follow-up. To name a few:

  • Vivaqua (Brusssels water utility) announced that they will host a Knowledge Picnic on Riothermia in 2020 (dates will follow soon)
  • Two other picnic topics were identified (Stormwater management and Energy efficiency)
  • The discussions about relevant indicators for the SDGs’ (a continuation of the earlier picnic) resulted in a concrete proposal for 42 indicators
  • The (climate) resilience questionnaires will be repeated and further improved next year
  • Delegates provided very positive feedback on EBCs’ new company reporting
  • MPWiK Krakow (Poland) will host the next workshop


All this happened in a relaxed and open atmosphere. We thank HSY and in particular Tommi Fred, Jyrki Kaija and Merja Heikkinen for a wonderful experience!


(Photo credits: Hannu Bask & EBC)