Innovating for a smarter network at Sutton and East Surrey Water

Water supply


Jeremy Heath is innovation manager at the UK’s Sutton and East Surrey Water. Keith Hayward heard him speak about planned work for 2017 to deliver progress with smart network management.

Garden sprinkler © shutterstock / connel
Garden sprinklers. Their use can push up supply input by 50% for Sutton and East Surrey Water. © shutterstock / connel

Water companies are right to show caution when it comes to innovation, especially given the fact that in developed countries at least, they are likely to already be providing water at very high levels of availability and purity. ‘It’s hard for us to innovate, because the danger is you affect any of those two metrics,’ comments Jeremy Heath, innovation manager at the UK’s Sutton and East Surrey Water. His point though is that innovation can and should happen, as long as that context is kept in mind.

Heath’s company provides water to some 685,000 people just south of London. He notes that innovation is seen as potentially taking place in three ways. One is through radical, disruptive innovation. As far as water supply networks are concerned, this has meant innovations such as the introduction of district metered areas and the first automated pressure reducing valves, for example. ‘Something that was a game-changer in the water industry,’ says Heath. Companies want this, but, he points out: ‘Generally it is recognised only 10% of innovation comes from there, and probably in our industry even a lot less than that.’

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  • UK, water supply, Sutton and East Surrey Water, smart utilities