Cranfield University has embarked on a 300,000-dollar research project to see how international water utilities can use risk management practice to ensure their survival. Funded by the Water Research Foundation (WRF), the ‘Real-life Enterprise Resilience’ project, aims to develop a toolkit of resources, including an interactive i-book for practical use by utility managers in the field.

Principal investigator Dr Simon Jude from the Cranfield Institute for Resilient Futures said: “The desire for resilient water utilities has become an international keystone of utility governance. This project aims to close the gap between regulatory calls for greater resilience, academic thinking and practical application. This is applicable, hard science for the workers in the field and executives in the board room, with the purpose of delivering a more sustainable, resilient water supply for future generations.”

Cranfield’s work will support the recent call from the Effective Utility Management Steering Group – a consortium of leading US bodies with strategic interests in utility governance – who have called for ‘enterprise resiliency’; a utility-wide, strategic approach to organisational resilience.

Project partners who have provided funding include City of Calgary (Canada), Seattle Public Utilities (US), Water Corporation (Australia), EPCOR (Canada), SA Water (Australia), Scottish Water, EPAL (Portugal), UKWIR Limited (UK), Yorkshire Water, Northern Ireland Water, and Thames Water.

Rob Pritchard, General Manager, Utilities & Environmental Protection for the City of Calgary, said: “Utility companies rely on the WRF and others to translate academic concepts into usable tools in practical formats. While there is a plethora of resilience programs and projects, even at the international level, there is no practice-led resource for water utility managers that supports a response to regulatory calls for improved resiliency. This project will address that need, and Calgary citizens will benefit as a result.”