Tackling droughts and reinventing the retail market: Castle Water partnership awarded share of innovation funding

Castle Water, the UK's leading independent business water supplier, has been announced a winner of Ofwat’s inaugural Water Breakthrough Challenge. Working with RWE, Bristol Water and Binnie’s, Castle Water’s innovative pilot scheme aims to provide more flexible local water supplies, improve drought resilience and incentivise business customers to save water.

The funding has been provided as part of Ofwat’s £36million Water Innovation Challenge and will be used to pilot the development of local water supplies by third parties, seeking to overcome current market blockers.

John Reynolds, CEO of Castle Water, said,This could reinvent the retail and wholesale market as we know it today, fit with our low carbon future and provide much-needed incentives for a step change in business water efficiency.”

Mel Karam, CEO of Bristol Water, said, "The water industry needs an estimated £21billion to build resilience to drought over the next 30 years. To compliment the industry’s current focus on infrastructure to pump water further, we’re exploring the development of smaller and local treated water supplies which could lower the environmental impact as well as a range of other benefits."

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat said, “Each of the winners contribute to the resilience, sustainability and effectiveness of the water sector in the years to come for the benefit of customers across the country. Thank you to the independent judging panel for its challenge and insight in recommending these impressive winners.”

As part of the project, the companies will be investigating whether land owned by electricity firm RWE at Didcot Power Station can be used to supply treated water to business water supplier, Castle Water. Bristol Water will be using its extensive knowledge of water treatment to help aid and manage the process. If successful, it will be the first-time water has been provided outside land owned by water companies.

The Water Breakthrough Challenge tackles the biggest challenges facing water and wastewater services, including net zero, reducing leakage, protecting natural ecosystems, and using open data to deliver value to customers, society, and the environment.

A second Water Breakthrough Challenge will open for entries on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives. Up to £35 million will be available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society and the environment.

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Notes For Editors

About Castle Water

Castle Water is the leading independent water retailer in the UK. We supply business water services to hundreds of thousands of nationwide companies, charities, and public bodies. Castle Water are licensed providers of water services in Scotland and England; and are regulated by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and Ofwat. Our customer services are all UK-based and delivered in-house. For further information about Castle Water, visit our website: www.castlewater.co.uk.

For press enquiries, contact:

Emma Smith
Marketing Communications Manager

About Ofwat’s Innovation Fund

Ofwat has established a £200 million Innovation Fund to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society, and the environment.

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges in partnership with Arup and is the second in a series of competitions funded through the Fund following the Innovation in Water Challenge earlier this year.

Entries were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales, alongside partnerships with organisations within and outside the water sector, including universities and institutes, retailers, start-ups, or small businesses in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health, or financial services.

To contact Ofwat’s press office, please call 07458 126271

Ofwat Water Breakthrough Challenge Judges

  • Anusha Shah, Director Resilient Cities, Arcadis, BEng, CEng, FICE (Chair)
  • Paul Connell, Founder, Open Data Institute Leeds
  • Prof Tony Conway, Visiting Professor, Sheffield University and prior Executive Director, United Utilities
  • Sharon Darcy, Director, Sustainability First
  • Paul O'Callaghan, Founder & CEO, BlueTech Research & Brave Blue World
  • Niki Roach, President, The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Director and Co-Founder of AxiaOrigin, FCIWEM, CEnv
  • Frank Rogalla, Director of Innovation and Technology, Aqualia (Spain)
  • Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director, International Water Association

About the Second Water Breakthrough Challenge

A second Water Breakthrough Challenge will open for entries on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives.  Up to £35 million will be available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society, and the environment

Water companies in England and Wales, as well as partnerships with organisations in the water sector supply chain and beyond, are encouraged to apply. A total of £5 million is available through the ‘Catalyst Stream’ for entries that bid for between £100,000 and £1 million. A total of £30 million is available through the ‘Transform Stream’ for entries that bid between £1 million and £10 million.

About Nesta and Nesta Challenges

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills, and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation, and the creative economy and arts.

Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to act.

We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real and seed long-term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta. We are challengers. We are innovators. We are game-changers.

About Arup

https://www.arup.com /

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants, and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Together we help our clients solve their most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality as we strive to find a better way and shape a better world. With a community of over 1700 water professionals, Arup is leading global thinking across key areas like innovation, resilience, net zero carbon, and sustainable water management.