Envirotec addresses a few questions to Steve Lawrie, a technical specialist with Dexter Watson, a supplier of equipment and services for the water and waste sectors
• Where do you see some of the most significant growth opportunities in the water and waste industry, over the coming years?
With new restrictions regarding the disposal of wet waste to landfill and other legislation constantly being introduced I can see the need for greater volume reduction through dewatering and recycling. This will move the industry towards the development of new systems along with improving existing systems. Whatever new systems are developed they should be kept simple in design and simple to operate. It was rumoured that the NASA space program spent half their budget on designing a pen for their astronauts that worked in space, the Russian space program gave their cosmonauts a pencil!
• What do you see as the biggest challenges in this sector over the coming years? (For example, responding to changes in legislation, like the EU Water Framework Directive).
As I see it, the biggest challenges will be having the equipment and resources to respond to all future changes! I agree we need legislation but not for legislation’s sake; all too often it’s the smaller private or new companies who struggle with any changes especially when asking for help or clarification. They are normally told not to, not how to! In my opinion, before any new directives are implemented proper consultation should take place between the various agencies and our industry to come up with practical solutions that are beneficial to everyone. It would be nice for us all to sing from the same song sheet for once!
• What changes would you like to see happen?
One area I feel needs to be tightened is the government’s regulation on the registration of septic tanks and treatment plant where it states, “septic tanks should be desludged on a regular basis”; one person’s regular basis is of course open to interpretation! In Scandinavia it is law for households to have their septic tank desludged on an annual basis which is controlled by the local authority, the cost of which is incorporated into the authority’s community charge to the householder. If the UK adopted the Scandinavian approach it would prevent soakaways from failing and prevent suspended solids from entering water courses causing pollution which the regulation was set up to prevent in the first place. A household connected to a mains sewer has an annual fee so why shouldn’t a household connected to a septic tank have the same? Adopting the Scandinavian approach would achieve the purpose of the regulation and would also create more jobs within both the manufacturing and the wet waste industries.