Sewage sludge treatment, recycling and disposal is an integral part of the sewerage service that water customers pay for. In the past 15-20 years, legislative changes and the introduction of new ways of working have required significant investment. However, Ofwat's principles of regulation have remained largely unchanged.
There are a number of emerging issues in this area of work. These include:
- mitigating climate change by generating renewable energy from sludge treatment
- the potential for treating sludge together with other suitable wastes which are generated outside the regulated water and sewerage business
- high energy prices and transportation costs
- increased possibilities of agricultural recycling of sludge from towns where it becomes less polluted by trade effluents from heavy industry
- potential loss of the ability to recycle sludge to agriculture due to restrictions on sludge use
Aims of this project
The project is aiming to develop a regulatory framework that:
- ensures sewerage customers receive a safe, reliable, efficient and affordable sludge service
- promotes positive social economic and environmental impacts
- provides incentives for innovation to deliver better or more efficient outcomes for customers and the environment
As part of the project we want to understand the role that markets could play in the delivery of sludge treatment, recycling and disposal services. We also want to understand how these services can interact with the wider organic waste markets.
This project ended in February 2012, and has informed the development of our 2014 price review.