Water company's aims for the future
NORTHUMBRIAN Water is investing hundreds of millions of pounds between 2005-2010 to improve its water and sewerage network.
The water company has also kept bills amongst the lowest in the country, while retaining high levels of customer service.
The water company aims to be a national leader in water and wastewater services, aiming to:
always be fair and responsible
meet customers’ expectations and deliver affordable services
attract and retain high calibre employees and be a learning organisation, promoting and embracing innovation
protect and enhance the environment
improve the quality of life of the communities it serves
take a sustainable approach to all its activities
Always be fair and responsible
Northumbrian Water is immersed in community life and is committed to giving something back to the areas it serves.
In July this year, Northumbrian Water’s commitment to the community was recognised when the company scooped two prestigious awards at Business in the Community’s Awards for Excellence 2008, placing the company as the number one multi-utility business in the UK for corporate responsibility.
The water company received a platinum ranking in Business in the Community’s Companies that Count index, achieving a top-tier score for commitment to the environment and community, and was also awarded the Impact on Society award in Business in the Community’s Big Tick awards 2008, for its Just An hour scheme.
Just An Hour encourages all Northumbrian Water employees to spend at least 15 hours of paid, work time every year supporting initiatives from Berwick down to North Yorkshire and across to the Pennines. Since the scheme was launched in 2002, water workers have spent more than 23,000 hours improving local communities and the environment.
Meet customers’ expectations and deliver affordable services
Northumbrian Water’s aim is to keep bills as low as possible for customers, whilst delivering excellent customer service.
By 2009-10 water and sewerage bills in the north east are expected to be the lowest in the country.
Customer service levels are high, with customers scoring the company 89.8% and 85.3% for customer service and value for money respectively for the first two quarters of 2008.
In November, Northumbrian Water’s customer contact centre was crowned North East Contact Centre of the Year 2008 (under 200 seats) at the sixth Contact Centre Awards 2008.
Andrea Cook, chairwoman of CCWater Northern, water industry consumer watchdog, said: “We know that consumers value a personal approach rather than an automated service. We congratulate the team who provide human contact and demonstrate the commitment of Northumbrian Water to its customers.”
Attract and retain high calibre employees and be a learning organisation, promoting and embracing innovation
At the end of 2007, Northumbrian Water signed the government’s Skills Pledge, have publicly committing to supporting 90% of its workforce, around 2600 people, to achieve at least NVQ Level 2 by 2010.
In 2008, 16 employees of the water company were the first in the country to achieve a specialised national qualification, NVQ Level 2 in Operating Process Plant.
The NVQ Level 2 in Operating Process Plant has been developed specifically to meet the national occupational standards set by the water, electricity, gas and waste management industries to achieve competent operator status. This ensures the qualification incorporates the best possible working practices.
In May 2008, hard work and dedication was acknowledged at the water company’s skills awards dinner held at Beamish Hall Hotel in County Durham. Motivational guest speaker and three-times Olympic gold medallist, Kriss Akabusi, added sparkle and helped instil pride into those at the event.
In total, 64 Northumbrian Water employees were rewarded, with qualifications attained including NVQ Level 2 in customer services, NVQ Level 2 in business administration, NVQ Level 2 in meter reading, NVQ Level 2 in team leading, NVQ Level 3 in engineering maintenance, BTEC HNC in business and HNC in civil engineering.
Diane Morton, director of human resources, said: “People are Northumbrian Water’s most valuable asset. We rely on the skills and talents of our people, and so it was a pleasure to recognise how proud we are of their achievements.”
Protect and enhance the environment
In February 2008, Northumbrian Water appointed its first climate change manager, David Chapman, to lead on its strategy to tackle the causes of climate change and its impact.
As climate change manager, David will strive to make the company as efficient and climate-friendly as possible by cutting carbon emissions, reducing the amount of energy used and collecting, collating and using weather data.
David said: “Water is such an essential part of our lives and the water industry is going to be at the front in terms of the effects of climate change.
“There are going to be changes in rainfall patterns, periods of drought and more intense rainfall, as well as sea level rises. We have already seen more flooding in recent years and we have to understand and manage all these risks.
“Our customers can also play a big part by helping to reduce energy emissions by using water wisely and saving and not wasting it.”
Improve the quality of life of the communities it serves
This year Northumbrian Water employees have spent 3250 hours, to the end of November, helping with community and environmental initiatives as part of Just an hour.
From February to June 2008, volunteers from Northumbrian Water’s workforce acted as umpires and organisers for the Tony Blair tennis challenge, a competition open to eight and nine year olds at all primary schools in the North-East.
The winners were Durham Lane of Eaglescliffe, Stockton, with Chandlers Ridge of Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, the runners-up.
The tournament was a huge success and as a result, next year’s tournament will be more than twice the size.
Nine employees from the Tees Valley offered assistance at Mowden Infant School in Darlington, to create a safe and usable garden space for the children aged four to seven.
The team spent a total of 63 hours tidying the garden and dug three vegetable patches so that pupils can grow vegetables and plants. They also painted a fence and bird lookout, created a seating area for pupils to work outside and filled in a disused pond which was a safety hazard.
Take a sustainable approach to all its activities
A £32m project is underway at Northumbrian Water’s biggest treatment works at Bran Sands at Teesport to convert sludge, the material left after sewage has been treated, into green energy that will help to power the treatment works.
The bio-gas produced as part of the process will reduce the importation of electricity by 50%.