Northumbrian Water Limited

Northumbrian Water received the first Stockholm Industry Water Award for its "forward looking initiative at achieving a regional solution to sewage treatment and disposal, in co-operation with local government and regulatory agencies, businesses and other non-governmental organisations."

Northumbrian Water successfully integrated state-of-the-art technology and regional industrial and legislative bodies into a new wastewater treatment strategy that enabled itself and neighbouring industrial companies to meet EU regulations, produced useful end products, brought a dramatic improvement to the quality of the River Tees and proved to be energy- and environmentally-effective.

Serving a population of 2.6 million that includes the cities of Newcastle, Sunderland and the Teesside conurbation, Northumbrian Water succeeded in finding innovative solutions to two major problems – what to do with huge volumes of sewage sludge when its disposal to sea was prohibited by the EU in December 1998, and how to provide a treatment facility that could deal with the area’s sewage and local industry’s waste. Northumbrian Water’s strategy, which combined an objective to work in partnership with the UK’s Environment Agency to improve water quality of the River Tees by removing discharges from the estuary, included the development of two modern, co-located facilities. These were the Regional Sludge Treatment Centre (RSTC) and the Tees Estuary Environment Scheme (TEES) – a major sewage and industrial effluent treatment works. Both facilities were constructed on a brown field site created by the capping of a chemical waste tip.

The TEES scheme has been hailed as the Tees River’s “biggest clean up since the Industrial Revolution” because it simultaneously provides improved treatment for a variety of waste streams, including industrial, and has helped rehabilitate the river. Already, ICI, Dupont, British Steel and Phillips Petroleum have agreed to send their industrial effluent to the scheme’s facility for treatment. When fully operational, the TEES scheme will be able to treat 300,000 cubic meters per day of effluent – the equivalent of a population of 3.5 million. The ending of direct discharges to the estuary has encouraged the return and passage of migratory fish.

Within Britain, and increasingly around the world, Northumbrian Water’s sludge and TEES strategies have been recognised as innovative. Both British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who launched the construction in 1996, and Cabinet Minister and local Member of Parliament Dr. Mo Mowlam, who officially opened the first phase in 1998, recognised the importance of the plant in solving current problems and providing solutions for the future. Since their completion, politicians and water engineers from around the UK and the world that are faced with similar issues have visited the twin plants. Northumbrian Water Limited is a member of the global Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux group.