PR19 – Are you ready?

Price Review 2019 (PR19) is the process that the water regulator Ofwat uses to set consumer water bills for the next Asset Management Plan (AMP) period. Water Companies from across the UK submit detailed proposals to Ofwat, outlining their investment strategy in the next AMP, in order to to achieve proposed levels of service targets, and ultimately how they intend to meet the expectations of customer, regulator and shareholder. As you can imagine, this is a complex process which requires a significant amount of data, planning and foresight by each water company. HydroCo have been supporting their clients through this challenging process during the last 3 price reviews, putting modelling outputs at the heart of steering investment strategies, predicting future asset performance, resource management and growth from one AMP to the next.

As the current Asset Management Plan (AMP6) draws to a close, water companies are already looking ahead to the next AMP period. Ofwat has proposed a raft of improved levels of service measures, which will be implemented in AMP7, including a reduction in both planned and non-planned supply interruption times. The performance measure set by the regulator is due to change from 12 minutes, to just 3 minutes, which will see a significant step change in the way water companies address interruptions to supply.

Many water companies are proactively preparing for the forthcoming new legislation, and looking at ways of meeting the new supply interruption target. A key tool in the ability to meet this target will be improved real time pressure monitoring, which could be used as an early alarm mechanism to warn of an impending issue in the system, but also as a means of analysing and reporting on events following an incident. The cost of implementing such a system is significant, not only investing in the new tapping locations and pressure logging devices, but expanding and improving the telemetry system to cope with the increase in data traffic. For the system to be most beneficial, loggers will be required to log and transmit data in real-time, with alarms configured to trigger at key set-points to alert control room operatives. Installing these logging devices at the optimum locations in the system in order to alert and monitor the entire network is highly critical. There will be budgetary limitations on the number of monitoring locations, so choosing the right locations to maximise the investment is a key part of the process. Network models offer the perfect tool to optimise these locations, with the ability to assess the performance of entire water networks, select optimal locations to maximise supply interruption coverage and advise on suitable alarm levels under all demand scenarios.

Whilst real time pressure monitoring offers operations departments a means of achieving the tough supply interruption targets, there are also opportunities for asset management teams to play their part. Risk & Impact modelling and critical link analysis provides the means of measuring both the risk of a mains failure occurring, and the impact the that failure would inflict on customers. Improvements in the way water companies record mains failures, allow models to be used to assess burst frequency against other key risk factors, and balanced against the impact performance measures, like number of customers downstream suffering DG2 & DG3 type failures short term, and the ability long term to rezone those affected customers.