The water firm digs a lot of holes during its operations – last year, it recycled 88% of the soil and stones that it removed from the ground. However some of the residue material is harder to recover and the company has been working with its contractors to find solutions to this challenge.

It has also been working on waste prevention and last year the overall volume of waste generated was 970,000 tonnes – a 15% decrease on the previous year. Furthermore 45% of the aggregates used to fill the holes in the road came from recycled sources.

Promoting water efficiency is also another priority. The company says it is working hard to encourage customers to save water to help reduce the amount of energy required to get supplies from reservoir to tap.

In 2012-13 its customers saved 3.13 mega litres of water per day beating United Utilities’ target of 2.51 mega litres per day – the third successive year that its Ofwat-set target has been superseded.

Educational campaigns, promoting the potential benefits of water meters, and giving away more than 100,000 save-a-flush devices, shower regulators and other water-efficient kit all helped to play a part.

United Utilities is focusing future efforts on sustainable water extraction from natural sources, such as rivers and lakes, in order to meet demand.

The company is using sophisticated modelling tools to assess impacts in this area, helping threatened species by, for example, developing plans for special ‘eel passes’ to make it easier for ills to travel downstream to spawn.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie