Water companies across the world unite with a vision to cut carbon by 1m tonnes

Aarhus Vand (Denmark), Melbourne Water (Australia), and Severn Trent (UK) form a partnership to advance the future of environmentally friendly wastewater treatment. Partners will collaborate on developing technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment sites to net-zero, sharing existing expertise, and establishing new international standards for measuring and reporting emissions.

A pioneering global collaboration of three major water companies is to be launched at the forthcoming World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, setting out a mission to forge the next generation of sustainable wastewater management for customers, while reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030.

Danish company Aarhus Vand, Australian water corporation Melbourne Water, and the UK’s Severn Trent, will join forces to co-create the development of technologies and innovations to make wastewater treatment greener, and begin to establish new international standards for measuring and reporting emissions, as the industry looks towards a carbon neutral future.

Together, the three companies have committed to work together to reduce their carbon emissions by around a million tonnes and aim to lead the green transformation of the sector. Through this worldleading collaboration the partners will build upon their experience, expertise, and innovation capacities on key complementary projects such as:

  • Transforming one of Severn Trent’s sewage treatment facilities in the UK into a Net Zero hub, dedicated to researching and testing the latest carbon neutral wastewater treatment technologies at an industrial scale.
  • Developing new techniques to measure and record nitrous oxide and methane releases from wastewater treatment sites, and establishing new, more accurate, international measurement standards based on this.
  • Identifying ways to enhance current wastewater treatment sites with green technology that optimises the performance and efficiency of facilities while reducing emissions to net zero.
  • Maximising the use of renewable, sustainable resources at treatment facilities.
  • Gathering and sharing information on the technical and economic feasibility of options to reduce emissions, creating a roadmap for the industry to achieve net zero most efficiently, at the best value for customers.
  • Exploring the potential for employment secondments between the three companies, so that talent and expertise can be shared and developed around the partnership and across the world - providing wellrounded international professional development and enabling the exchange of fresh ideas.

CSO Claus Homann, Aarhus Vand said:

“Aarhus Vand's purpose is to create health through clean water for people and the planet. The planet has a fever and many people are affected by too little and too much water in the wrong places. As water companies, we can both take local - and contribute to global - initiatives, and it is urgent to create climateneutral solutions.

Together we can create and implement solutions, motivate and challenge each other, but not least succeed faster and minimise risk. By focusing on climate neutrality, the water company of the future will be: energy producing, CO2 and nitrous oxide consuming and part of circular resource systems that make our activities truly sustainable. Radical innovation requires participants with great diversity, different expertise, curious, ambitious and trust-building precisely the characteristics of our partners in the UK and Australia.”

Nerina Di Lorenzo, Managing Director of Melbourne Water commented:

"We are in the decade that matters when the actions we take now will define our future. We must also adapt our operations to prepare for a changing climate which is why we are passionate about this international partnership with Aarhus Vand and Severn Trent.

At Melbourne Water we take a collaborative approach to the way we plan for and manage all elements of the water cycle: from providing clean drinking water, treating sewage so we can recover and re-use our valued resources, planning to prevent flooding, and keeping all 25,000km of Melbourne’s rivers, creeks and catchments healthy.

We are also at the forefront of a shift towards a circular economy, transforming our sewerage system, so we can recover Melbourne’s waste, turning it into water, nutrients and energy for re-use. Partnering with Aarhus Vand and Severn Trent will assist us in achieving this goal.”

Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent said:

“The global water industry needs to come together and act now to take more responsibility for carbon emissions. This international partnership of water companies feels like one of the most exciting and important moment for the sector in decades. We share a vision and mission for the future - our pioneering collaboration will drive forward the net zero agenda, create green solutions for the worldwide industry, and protect our planet.

Together we will test and develop the wastewater treatment technology of tomorrow at industrial scale, enhance the efficiency and sustainability of our existing sites, and help set new standards for how carbon emissions are measured. We are so proud to be leading the way internationally alongside our partners in Australia and Denmark, and at the same time creating a new centre of innovation excellence in our region, which will attract new jobs and green skills to the UK’s Midlands region.”

Severn Trent has begun trials on ground-breaking technologies that monitor, capture, and break down nitrous oxide - the water industry’s most potent greenhouse gas — using the power of sunlight. Severn Trent will also progress the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimise its treatment works, reducing emissions, chemicals, and power usage.

Melbourne Water has commenced a range of site-specific emission measurement initiatives to provide increased transparency of actual emissions and identify opportunities to reduce them. Sharing this knowhow across the industry will enable more utilities to better understand and reduce their emissions. Melbourne Water is also investigating how its wastewater treatment plants can be transformed to incorporate low emissions treatment technologies.

Aarhus Vand is currently developing a new sustainable sludge handling process, ‘digital twin’ technology (which uses simulation and machine learning to find the most optimal green processes), and Aarhus ReWater - a learning plan to determine where best to replace treatment technology with better, newer solutions.

Individually, the partners are already industry leaders in the field of environmental sustainability and renewable resources.

Severn Trent has invested in a Resource Recovery and Innovation Centre which explores technologies to reduce and remove emissions - including Europe’s largest anaerobic treatment process that uses less air and energy and has less embedded carbon. The UK company is also using drones to detect methane as part of sector-leading trials to measure process emissions.

Melbourne Water has a long history of onsite renewable electricity generation, including harnessing biogas from our wastewater treatment plants, the power of water and gravity via mini-hydro throughout our water supply network and the Australian sun via the commissioning of two large scale solar facilities. This combined with procurement of renewable electricity will support Melbourne Water being 100% renewable by 2025.

Aarhus Vand already focuses on turning wastewater into green energy, creating liveable cities through climate adaption, and the active reduction of nitrous oxide and methane emissions.