British Water Industry Lends Advice to North American Market

The United Kingdom’s deep history and experience in the water sector was showcased last week through the presence of a delegation of British companies at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), the largest annual meeting of water sector professionals in North America.  

The British companies – including UK Trade & Investment’s delegation of nine organizations – exemplify the country’s extensive expertise in the water industry, ranging from water resource management and engineering to water purification and treatment technologies and monitoring.

“The UK’s holistic environmental initiatives and regulatory framework have cultivated an active business environment in Great Britain, spurring water companies to innovate and implement new technologies and approaches that can be applied to global water issues,” said Michael Rosenfeld, UK Trade & Investment, Vice Consul – U.S. Clean Technology Sector. “As the world collectively seeks answers to water scarcity and water quality issues, there is a strong recognition that the UK water sector is an important international partner providing solutions and resources to draw upon and collaborate with.” 

Great Britain – which is home to more than 500 companies and 80,000 employees in the water industry – has proven to be an important partner in supplementing the water sectors in the United States and Canada. 

“The UK’s deep experience in the water and environmental industries is a valuable supplement to the water sector in North America and has greatly enhanced the existing capabilities of Atkins North America for the planning, design and construction of water and wastewater systems,” said Douglas Fredericks, Vice President, Water Infrastructure for UK-based Atkins, a leading international engineering and design consultancy. The company has provided its water engineering services throughout North America, such as the recent upgrade and expansion of the 300 million gallon per day Potomac Water Filtration Plant in Montgomery County, Maryland which services more than one million residents. 

During WEFTEC, Mr. Fredericks discussed a more economically and environmentally sustainable approach to wastewater treatment on a UK Trade & Investment panel discussion about the water industry’s role in the world’s shift to sustainably-focused economies. 

“Atkins is pleased to join other British companies in Los Angeles this week to share the knowledge and insight gained from our country’s extensive history in water management and environmental and infrastructure enhancement,” said Fredericks. 

The UK is developing new technologies and solutions for the water industry, many of which are implemented throughout North America. For example, Cheshire-based Multisensor Systems – a developer and supplier of online environmental monitoring instruments – has received an enthusiastic response from water treatment and wastewater customers in the Western U.S. and Canada. The company has secured two trials sites in the U.S. for its latest thrihalomethane monitor, an online tool designed to monitor and report the concentrations of carcinogenic substances in drinking water, which will be showcased at WEFTEC. 

“The regulatory environment in North America, combined with the need to drive down cost and energy consumption in its water sector, makes the region an ideal platform for partnership with the UK’s advanced technologies and experience in water management and treatment,” said Brad Weaterton, CEO, Multisensor Systems. 

British companies are also providing services to several notable water quality projects in North America. For example, Atkins worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop and manage the $14 billion storm damage risk reduction program after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. 

Arup, a UK-based international design and engineering consultancy, is currently leading the engineering design of a vital new intake tunnel at Nevada’s Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. and a source of water for millions. The new tunnel will ensure water quality and supply amid declining lake levels caused by increasing drought in the Southwest U.S. 

“As governments, companies and regulators in North America and the UK continue to address critical issues like water scarcity and conservation, the collaboration of technologies, education and standards will be key to evolving the water sectors of both regions,” added Rosenfeld of UK Trade & Investment.