Hydro Nation: annual report 2021

Records the development of Scotland's Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the seventh annual report in 2020.

Looking ahead – 2022 and beyond

Customers and communities

Following the establishment of a new Independent Customer Group in Spring 2021, Scottish Water will set out how they aim to define empowerment of customers and communities, to build appreciation, empowerment and engagement with customers and communities through a national engagement strategy. Tailored service packages will be introduced to boost support for customers in vulnerable circumstances and those most impacted by recurring issues. They will extend engagement programmes such as Learn to Swim, Top Up Taps and customer behaviour campaigns (water efficiency and preventing sewer blockages).

Hydro Nation Chair

A University of Stirling professor has been appointed as the Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, which will see him lead a £3.5 million initiative to position the country as a global leader in water research. Andrew Tyler, a Professor of Environmental Science in the Faculty of Natural Science, heads the new initiative – a partnership involving Scottish Water and the Scottish Funding Council – which will act as a catalyst for academic research and innovation. Funded by Scottish Water, the Chair will lead the creation of collaborative partnerships across the sector, to deliver solutions for sustainable water management in Scotland.

Covid-19 detection

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the research agenda. While we know a lot more about the virus, its survival and fate in the built and natural environments, there is still much to learn about this novel virus and its transmission. While it is generally understood that while the virus can be detected in wastewater systems, it is not in an active or infective state. This is good for the wastewater management industry and limits the extent of virus spread. Extensive research has been carried out on wastewater treatment plant influent and effluent and main sewers, there has been less evidence presented close to the source – people. More work will need to be carried out on this important area, specifically in buildings. Further work, planned by Heriot-Watt University will look at the feasibility of applying viral RNA detection methods very near the source. This could be of immense assistance in tracking the virus and may also inform future debate around managing building related systems and their energy needs.

Malawi-Scotland Regulatory Partnership (MSRP)

As the MSRP looks to the future in light of a global pandemic, the continued impact of climate change and the just transition towards Net-Zero; the programme will maintain the ambition of supporting the institutions charged with safeguarding Malawi's environment and water resources. The MSRP recognises that Hydro Nation creates the springboard to foster diverse multi-sectoral collaboration, aligned under one common goal. With this in mind, the MSRP will look to:

  • Develop a longer-term vision and development plan to support the operationalisation of the NWRA and MEPA, enshrined through formal agreement with SEPA.
  • Enhance the MSRP's offering through Malawi-partners.
  • Provide a coordinating function to Hydro nation-linked activities in Malawi by supporting knowledge exchange and research impact associated with the Hydro Nation Scholars, and by exploring wider public sector collaboration opportunities.
  • In support of a just transition, investigate, plan and pilot ways through which the programme can be delivered digitally, thus limiting the carbon-cost associated with international programme delivery.

One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP)

The OHBP plans to build on the successes in 2021-22 in a number of areas including:

  • Developing a OHBP strategy to address Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (PiE), through SEPA and Scottish Water's "One Planet Choices" (OPC) initiative. The OPC trial will utilise an established method and qualitative technique to map entrance of priority compounds into the environment and identify the best point of intervention in the PiE cycle.
  • Further collaboration with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) to:
  • 1. Roll-out the international AWS accreditation at other NHS Highland sites, building on the Caithness General Hospital pilot study and stimulating innovation and impact in the Highland region which can be scaled-up across Scotland.
  • 2. Establish a PiE focus group of members with similar interests/challenges related to emerging contaminants and incorporate PiE into their international accreditation scheme.

World Water Day 2022

On the 22nd March 2022, the Hydro Nation International Centre will host Scotland's World Water Day 2022 event, on the theme of water "the hidden resource". The intention is that this will be an in-person event, with an additional virtual component inspired by the success of World Water Day 2021.



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