Hydro Nation Forum minutes: January 2017

Minutes from the meeting of the Hydro Nation Forum on 25 January 2017.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Chair)
  • Barry Greig (BG), Scottish Government (Vice Chair)
  • Stuart McCaskell (SM), Scottish Government
  • Sam Curran (SC), SEPA
  • Tom Harvie-Clark (THC), Scottish Water
  • Chris Spray (CS), University of Dundee
  • Rachel Helliwell (RH), CREW
  • Bob Kalin (BK), University of Strathclyde
  • George Fleming (GF), EnviroCentre
  • Michael Gormley (MG), Heriot-Watt University
  • David Johnston (DJ), University of Oxford
  • Alan Simpson (AS), Institute of Civil Engineers
  • Jan Reid (JR), Scottish Enterprise
  • Observing: Strathclyde University Engineering students

Items and actions

Item 1 - Introduction and Opening Remarks

1. The Chair welcomed members to the 9th meeting of the Forum. She thanked BK for hosting the meeting at Strathclyde University and noted his recent work in Malawi. The Chair announced that an additional £500k had been secured for the Malawi project. This underlined Scotland’s commitment to working with Malawi and supporting climate change and the UN global goals to access clean water and sanitation. The Chair also highlighted that the draft Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy had been published recently. In setting out the Agenda for the meeting the Chair invited the Forum’s views on the 3rd Annual Hydro Nation Report.

Item 2 - Minutes of Previous Meeting

2. The Chair noted these had already been agreed and published; there were no further comments.

Item 3 - Hydro Nation Agenda progress update 1

3. BG confirmed that the 3rd Annual Hydro Nation Report is the last required by statute and highlights key actions taken over the period of the Report to deliver the Scottish Government’s (SG) overarching strategic vision. As well as work to consolidate the Hydro Nation Water Innovation Service (HNWIS), BG highlighted that Scottish Water (SW) has continued to make good progress across their estate with respect to climate change mitigation and efficiency. SW would publish an annual report on its progress and continues to work closely with SG on key domestic challenges for example rural provision. A working group is making some good progress and would report to Ministers in due course. BG also highlighted the growth and development of the Hydro Nation Scholars Programme – there are 18 studying at Universities across Scotland and the first cohort would finish this year. The first International Fellow had been appointed and would assist with a project in India – investigating nitrate contamination of groundwater.

4. BG confirmed India is a Hydro Nation partner country and highlighted the support offered for businesses e.g. through international trade missions which had been extremely useful in broadening networks and via the Science/ Technology bridge approach which would explore how links with e.g. Indian Institutes of Science and Technology might lead to opportunities for business. BG also noted that the intention was that in the coming year there would be renewed focus on domestic issues, now that the international projects had been set up.

5. The Chair welcomed comments from members on the 3rd Annual Report and asked for views on format and content going forward.

  • GF suggested that the link between Academia, students and practitioners had not gained enough momentum. He noted that SMEs need further engagement. GF also noted EnviroCentre was happy to take on students once they had graduated to concentrate on the HN area. The support EnviroCentre had received from SDI might provide a template for broader HN collaboration. GF raised concern that there is no reasonable access to procurement processes for SMEs on large projects i.e. flooding

  • THC praised the organisation of the Hydro Nation agenda on the basis of the 4 themes set out in the report, particularly welcoming the broadening of the agenda to support Scotland’s work internationally and on knowledge exchange

  • DJ raised interest in the international work and noted the scope for SW as Scotland sets a leading example. He also raised relationships with students and whether SW offered practical experience. THC confirmed that SW had taken on 36 graduates this year with 22 on development programmes. He noted that SW also sponsors PhD. students and undertakes education programmes in schools

  • SC queried whether the report would start showcasing data. The Chair confirmed the intention to address this in future

  • CS welcomed the education opportunities and suggested the Forum should disseminate the information for awareness. BG noted that a communications plan would be developed

  • AS noted the gender imbalance of Forum members and students. He suggested further work is needed to address this through the education system

6. In summing up, the Chair acknowledged the concerns raised by GF while clarifying that procurement policy was not part of her portfolio. RC offered to consult with Officials after the meeting and revert to the group. BG confirmed that Hydro Nation Commercial would help with this issue by better aligning public sector offerings with private. This would lead to a wider network for opportunities for Scotland.


HNF Secretariat to follow up on procurement issues raised and revert to the Chair. Secretariat to consider how a more appropriate gender balance on the HNF might be achieved (Note: action to recruit more female members is underway).

Item 4 - Hydro Nation: Malawi water futures

7. BK gave a presentation to update the Forum on the Hydro Nation-funded Malawi Water Futures Project, led by Strathclyde University. He noted work currently focussed on 25 districts but that today’s announcement of additional funding will allow work to be undertaken in more districts, and eventually the whole country, a significant achievement for Hydro Nation that will improve the lives of people across the entire country of Malawi over time.

8. BK highlighted that Strathclyde student, Ben McIntosh-Michaelis, had designed an innovative adaptation to the Afridev pump design to assist in drawing water from boreholes – Ben was the winner of the Hydro Nation/Water Aid challenge award at VIBES 2016. All NGO officers in Malawi are being trained for free in its appropriate use which allows water to be drawn from a greater depth and to a greater height allowing increased distribution and storage. BK also confirmed that Strathclyde University has Nigerian, Zambian and Malawian officials studying to exchange knowledge.

9. The Chair noted work is done at every single level in Malawi, for example with MPs and parliament staff, and asked if such an approach could be replicated in other countries. BK noted the key message is the need to work closely with the Government and felt that the approach can indeed be replicated, for example, where Strathclyde University is working with Israel and Palestine on water issues related to the Gaza strip.

10. GF suggested linking with other EU countries using BK’s experience to assist. DJ a good example of CLTS: Community-Led Total Sanitation as an effective element of integrated resource management such as where positive competition between villages on who can clean up water most effectively can have very positive results. BG agreed these types of approach should be considered in the HN strategy.


Secretariat to consider and revert to the Forum in due course on how to bring HN experience, including the approach in Malawi, to bear in other countries.

Item 5 - Hydro Nation Agenda progress update 2

11. BG requested that members contact him if they have further comments on the Report.

Hydro Nation Water Innovation Service

12. Paper HNF9.1 provided data on the HNWIS from the latest quarterly report and highlighted there is an issue with overwhelming demand, such is the success of the service. It was confirmed that testing had commenced at the development centres at Bo’Ness and Gorthleck. In response to a question from THC, it was explained that while there were broad targets relating to the number of companies using the Development Centres, the final number was dependent on the specific needs of identified by HNWIS working with the businesses concerned. BG confirmed that work would need to begin shortly on designing the next evolution of the Innovation Service, building on and learning from the experience to date to deliver an even better service for the sector. RH asked whether the call to tender would target specific gaps in knowledge and BG confirmed this was a possibility; the Forum would be given an opportunity for more detailed input to the process in due course.

13. BG confirmed work in India was progressing well and that he would attend an event in Bangalore the following week undertaken with Power of Youth that would help match Scottish professionals with international counterparts and seek to develop relationships with companies. The SG would also seek to support further global events in Scotland, as it had with the IWRA Congress in 2015. A meeting of the ISO Technical committee on Water Quality was already confirmed for April 2018 and BG welcomed suggestions from HNF members for other appropriate events that could highlight Scotland’s profile in Water.

Hydro Nation Strategy

14. BG highlighted that Hydro Nation Commercial (HNC) is a new section in the strategy. A group had been convened before Christmas to discuss how to explore commercial activities and share opportunities. BG noted this is a key part of the domestic theme. A key aim of HNC is to explore current activities and consider how to leverage those collaboratively for heightened impact, how to align appropriately with the commercial sector, identify opportunities and how to respond. The initial meeting sought to identify key lessons and noted the importance of public bodies status as a strong USP in a market currently dominated by the private sector consultancy model. Good examples of current activity include Scottish Water International and SEPA working with a model whereby interested individuals in each organisation can be called upon to respond to specific project opportunities. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for February.

  • THC suggested the strategy should be orientated around the 4 pillars for consistency and also queried why opportunities were restricted to the public sector

  • SC noted it is beneficial to work as a joint force – the opportunity for SMEs to work in consortia with the public sector was highlighted as a key point to be borne in mind

  • THC confirmed that Scottish Water International’s work is typically with the private sector

  • Other members agreed that the private sector should be involved for a more complete model. A general discussion on marketing and selling services internationally noted the importance of tight budgetary control, appropriate insurance and a need to be wary of unscrupulous customers

  • Members (GF) offered assistance to the Secretariat to help develop this aspect. JR noted rural opportunities are included in the strategy but not urban and invited the Secretariat to consider how that could be reflected in future. BG noted that HNC would to some extent address some of these concerns but agreed closer consideration was required


Secretariat to consider above and revert to HNF with proposals.

Hydro Nation Conference / Summer Meeting 2017

15. BG proposed the HNF Summer Meeting as a mini-conference type event to focus on the knowledge agenda and engage the wider research community as well as Hydro Nation scholars and sought ideas from the HNF. RH asked whether the scholars could link their research projects to Sustainable Development Goals. BG agreed that was appropriate. BK suggested a poster presentation that highlighted these aspects as well as drawing out links with commercial opportunities and other impacts. He also noted that, in September, Strathclyde University would host 25 officials from Malawi for training. He queried whether the event could be held at a similar time. CS noted June could be difficult for academia (marking exams etc). BG confirmed that the usual timing for the Forum would be in early June due to Parliamentary Recess dates impacting on the Cabinet Secretary’s availability, but a separate event in the late summer/early autumn could be considered. BG noted he may need to revise the timing and agreed to discuss with others out of the meeting and revert.

16. THC queried if the event would be restricted to Hydro Nation scholars. BG agreed a more open event could improve networks. GF queried the intended audience and whether students would present to future employers, academic etc. SC noted a number of students are graduating shortly and asked whether it was possible to launch an alumni network. BG confirmed that work on a network was already underway and this event may be appropriate to launch it. BG suggested graduating students would receive a certificate from the Cabinet Secretary at a ceremony/event involving the Forum at the end of 2017.

17. RH asked the students observing what they would like to see in an event. It was agreed poster presentations were useful in encouraging dialogue. Informal settings were preferable and that the event is free. GF noted companies and agencies could be invited to sponsor the event.


BG to consider and submit options to HNF on Summer Conference.

Item 6 - Developing the Water Economy: HN Forum Members update

18. Forum members provided further updates:

  • RH noted that as this was her first meeting, she would like to contact members to get further information on their work
  • THC confirmed that SW would continue to support the Hydro Nation and it was happy to discuss its work further
  • GF confirmed that companies like EnviroCentre are happy to sponsor students.
  • JR noted SE was delighted to support the Hydro Nation and intended to provide support to large users in terms of water efficiency
  • BK suggested using NGOs to help promote SG outcomes and to raise awareness of the work undertaken for the Hydro Nation

Item 7 - Summary

19. BG thanked attendees noting his intention to correspond more regularly between meetings.


BG to set the date for the next meeting.

Water Industry Division
February 2017

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