International water companies partner to make wastewater treatment greener

Three water utility companies have committed to work together to reduce their carbon emissions by around 1 million tonnes and aim to lead the green transformation of the wastewater sector. Photo credit: Kalyakan,

Three major water utility companies in Denmark, Australia and the U.K. are partnering to create a new generation of sustainable wastewater management for customers, while reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030.

Danish company Aarhus Vand, Australian water corporation Melbourne Water, and the U.K.’s Severn Trent, will join forces to co-create the development of technologies and innovations to make wastewater treatment greener, and begin to establish new international standards for measuring and reporting emissions, as the industry looks towards a carbon neutral future.

The three companies have committed to work together to reduce their carbon emissions by around 1 million tonnes and aim to lead the green transformation of the wastewater sector.

“Together we will test and develop the wastewater treatment technology of tomorrow at industrial scale, enhance the efficiency and sustainability of our existing sites, and help set new standards for how carbon emissions are measured,” announced Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent, in a statement. “We are so proud to be leading the way internationally alongside our partners in Australia and Denmark, and at the same time creating a new centre of innovation excellence in our region, which will attract new jobs and green skills to the U.K.’s Midlands region,” she added.

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The new partnership officially gets underway this week at The World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The collaboration will touch on a series of new projects, such as developing new techniques to measure and record nitrous oxide and methane releases from wastewater treatment sites, which could lead to establishing new, more accurate, international measurement standards in this area.

The utilities will also transform one of Severn Trent’s wastewater treatment facilities in the U.K. into a net-zero hub, dedicated to researching and testing the latest carbon neutral wastewater treatment technologies at an industrial scale.

Severn Trent has already invested in a Resource Recovery and Innovation Centre, which explores technologies to reduce and remove emissions – including Europe’s largest anaerobic treatment process that uses less air and energy and has less embedded carbon. The U.K. company is also using drones to detect methane as part of sector-leading trials to measure process emissions.

Additionally, the three companies will explore the potential for employment secondments so that talent and expertise can be shared and developed around the alliance and across the world, providing well-rounded international professional development and enabling the exchange of fresh ideas.

“Aarhus Vand’s purpose is to create health through clean water for people and the planet. The planet has a fever and many people are affected by too little and too much water in the wrong places,” said Claus Homann, chief strategy officer for Aarhus Vand. “As water companies, we can both take local — and contribute to global — initiatives, and it is urgent to create climate-neutral solutions.”

Homann said he wants the alliance to focus on climate neutrality, what the water company of the future will be, energy production, CO2 and nitrous oxide, and which part of circular resource systems make activities truly sustainable.

“Radical innovation requires participants with great diversity, different expertise, curiosity, ambition and trust-building, precisely the characteristics of our partners in the U.K. and Australia,” added Homann.

Melbourne Water has a history of on-site renewable electricity generation, including harnessing biogas from its wastewater treatment plants, the power of water and gravity via mini-hydro throughout its water supply network and through two large-scale solar facilities. This combined with procurement of renewable electricity may support Melbourne Water being 100% renewable by 2025.

“We are in the decade that matters when the actions we take now will define our future,” said Nerina Di Lorenzo, managing director of Melbourne Water.

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