The virtual ceremony brought together people from across the water sector including, utilities, contractors, SME’s and entrepreneurs, to celebrate innovation, creative thinking, and those who have made a difference in the industry. The event was supported by WRc, and the awards by ARUP, Hydrosave, Stantec and ACO Water Management.
Guest speaker, Dr Javier Ventura-Traveset, from the European Space Agency, provided the audience with a fantastic insight into the importance of ‘Water in Space’, how critical it is to the International Space Station, to journeys to Mars, to establishing a base on the moon and also to life being able to exist elsewhere in the universe. He also told the audience about the launch of new satellites to monitor oceans and said that space agencies should be working more closely with the water sector.
Paul Horton, CEO of Future Water, explained the importance of the awards:
“People and innovation are the driving force behind today’s water industry and these awards have been established to celebrate the water sector; including the successes, the achievements, the technology and the people that all help deliver a valuable resource that we sometimes take for granted. Our Water Dragons Awards recognise the ideas and innovations within the sector and provides a platform for businesses to present new products to key decision makers, opening up wider markets and opportunities to them.”
Mark Smith, Chair of Future Water & CEO at WRc said:
“One thing we can say about 2020 is that it has been anything but boring. The pandemic has challenged all of us and Future Water has risen to the challenges offering members a safe place to discuss business and people issues, whilst continuing to actively engage with the water company Innovation 2050 strategy and development of the OFWAT Innovation Fund. Mark added “A strong Future Water is vital for the sector and in addition to the regular engagement meetings, water dragons programme, Young Water Dragons, training initiatives etc. Future Water will be launching new members groups in 2021 to support the organisation as we push the forward-thinking agenda. So, why not join us on the journey?”
Water Dragons 2019 Highly Commended – Propelair
Matt Foster of sponsor Hydrosave, said “Propelair brought to the Final a great idea with their water-efficient toilet system that has great potential revolutionising not only water saving but also hygiene. Well done to everyone at Propelair.”
Winner Water Dragons 2019 Winner – VAPAR
Matt said: “VAPAR’s innovation in the rapid assessment of video recordings of internal sewer condition has immense potential to help the water industry get a grip on understanding the condition of its sewer assets. It will revolutionise what has hitherto been a labour intensive and slow process by using AI and Cloud-Based technology and could yield 1,000-fold efficiency savings in time and improve forward planning for investment in the country’s sewerage infrastructure.”
Emerging Talent Category Highly Commended – Francieli Thums, Critical Sewers Engineer, Wessex Water
Mark Fletcher from sponsors Arup reflected “Franceli showed a huge amount of potential, having undertaken her degree projects in partnership with her organisation. Since then, she has gone on to manage large infrastructure projects and work with international partners. She’s also an advocate for Women in Engineering and we believe she has a bright future in the sector.”
Emerging Talent Category Winner – Laura Conroy, Innovation Programme Manager, United Utilities
Mark Fletcher said “Our winner has shown a fantastic progression since joining as an apprentice. She’s played a pivotal role in transforming the company’s innovation capability leading projects and programmes to inspire employees, procure game-changing ideas and develop a portfolio of innovation trials. She has shown leadership, passion and an outstanding contribution to her organisation – with roles in diversity and inclusion groups, as a STEM Ambassador, and a personal mentor to employees too.”
COVID-19 – Above & Beyond Award Winners – Kirsty Ayres, Senior Engineer, WSP & Rowan Speers, AVK UK
Tim Williams from award sponsors Stantec explained “Why are they both winners? They both truly went above and beyond to do something that was not a requirement of their job – Kirsty as she really grasped one of the biggest challenges of the lock down i.e. mental wellbeing and reached out to 280 or more people in the water sector through her Institute of Water presentation. Rowan’s individual efforts in 3-D printing masks for the NHS was equally fantastic. Rowen used his own resources, time and his own money at the start (and roped in his mother) and committed to the long term to produce PPE that was badly needed at the time.”
People Category Winner – Simon Bennett, Head of Wholesale Services, Bristol Water
Dr David Smoker from ACO Water Management, sponsor of the People award, congratulated the winner by saying “I’ve known Simon for a number of years but not as many years as he has been in the Water Industry.
The People Award is not a lifetime achievement award although in his 37 years in the industry, Simon has achieved a great deal. He has been instrumental in many improvements to the industry; worked co-operatively with the supply chain; has always been happy to share his extensive knowledge (always with a genuine big smile); mentoring younger entrants coming into the industry and fronting Bristol Water’s Education campaign for Key Stage 2 school pupils.
Moving closer to the present, his nominator highlighted Simon’s passion and interest in doing things better and in improving the customer experience, particularly in making the new water retail market a success. Simon is the ultimate collaborator – in setting up the influential Retailer Wholesaler Group (RWG); in creating the Water Industry Registration Scheme – Accredited Entity and in developing the Pinpoint app with a supply chain partner to help retailers find meters in the field.
I personally am very pleased that Simon was nominated, and he is a very worthy winner of the Future Water People Award.”
People Category Special Recognition – Mark Smith, RPS
Paul Horton, CEO, Future Water introducing the special recognition reflected “This year the industry has had to say goodbye to a real ambassador, someone who believed in the future of the water sector and supported the forward looking agenda, someone who had time for everyone. Future Water is privileged to be making a Special Recognition Award to Mark Smith, RPS.
Mark would have wanted us to recognise all that is great in the industry and I’m sure he would have enjoyed the celebration. Perhaps we can sum everything up with something that Mark was often known to say, “C’mon Buddy’ the best is yet to come!”
For more detailed information about the event and all the winners, please visit the following link where you can view the recording of the ceremony: https://youtu.be/aawzjcszxvs
The ceremony was also an occasion to support two great charitable organisations fundamentally connected with water, WaterAid and Toilet Twinning.