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Ofwat’s Alison Fergusson to deliver Dugald Clerk lecture

08 March 2021

Biennial Prestige Lecture for the water sector to cover the three critical issues of public purpose, what effective innovation means, and the Direct Procurement for Customers method.

Ofwat’s Alison Fergusson to deliver Dugald Clerk lecture

What Ofwat believes water engineers should be focussing on today is the message of this year’s ICE Prestige Lecture held in honour of Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk.

Taking place on Monday, 29 March 2021 at 18.00 UK time, the lecture is ICE’s established keynote for the water sector and will feature the Water Services Regulation Authority’s principal engineer, Alison Fergusson.

Fergusson brings two sets of expertise to this lecture: current responsibility for aspects of the price review process in England and Wales and as principal engineer at Ofwat understanding how the regulator’s objectives fit together with practical engineering issues.

She will focus on three key issues, referring to her insights about the application of practical engineering skills throughout.

Innovation, investment, and the pandemic

The first is about the purpose of water infrastructure for society, asking what are we really trying to do, in the face of population growth, climate change, our need for resilience, the public’s changing expectations, and affordability for people during and after the Covid-19 pandemic? She will also raise the issue of whether the water sector needs to think afresh about its solutions.

The second issue is the importance of innovation in the water sector, where Ofwat is this year running two rounds of a £200 million Innovation Fund. This is not just about technology but can be about innovative ideas from other sectors being tried in the water industry, or perhaps different ways of working.

The third is large investment projects in the water sector, including Ofwat’s ‘Direct Procurement for Customers’ (DPC) approach. This is a new method for structuring the delivery of large projects in the water sector, and therefore highly relevant for today’s practising civil engineers.

Ahead of the lecture, Alison Fergusson said: “There is huge scope for organisations and professionals to get involved in an industry that provides such essential services. I’m looking forward to discussing the challenges the water industry faces, and the fresh thinking needed to meet these challenges head on.”

Dugald Clerk is the Scottish engineer who designed the world’s first successful two-stroke engine.

  • Anna Plodowski, knowledge content producer at ICE