back to article Southern Water to drink up tech deals worth up to £358M

Southern Water — the £792 million ($996 million) UK utility business — is on the hunt for technology suppliers to take part in a £358 million ($450 million) framework deal which includes help selecting and implementing a replacement for its current SAP ERP system. The deal is under the water company's Technology Service …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Is that going to stop them dumping shit in to the rivers and sea?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      My thoughts exactly. Maybe keep SAP (it's expensive to rip out as it is) and invest the £300 million into sorting their sewage overspill problems instead!!

      1. Ball boy Silver badge

        Don't overlook "the company has a relationship with UK outsourcing firm Capita". Private Eye call them 'Crapita' for a reason.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          I love that word "relationship." Covers all manner of sins, doesn't it?

      2. Spazturtle Silver badge

        "invest the £300 million into sorting their sewage overspill problems instead"

        They are not allowed to do that, Ofwat only allows new sewage plants to be built when the existing ones are routinely going over their red line, but Ofwat tends to set the red line above the plants maximum capacity so the red line can never be reached.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Who said anything about building new ones? You *can* improve capacity in your existing plant...

        2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Crapita, now Oftwat. Why journalists can't spell?

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Leaks

    I didn't know you can use ERP system to fix the pipes?

    How does that work?

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Leaks

      Print off the documentation set and stuff it in the hole. Which is a good instruction to give to any CEO of a formally nationalised industry in my view.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Leaks

      You can't, but you COULD use it to catalogue every single turd going into and out of the pipes...

      That would be one hell of a log file ..

      Ok i'm going

  3. Sir Sham Cad

    "asset management period set out by regulator Ofwat"

    Since when have Southern Waster ever given a fuck what Ofwat say?

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: "asset management period set out by regulator Ofwat"

      And when has Ofwat actually enforced anything that they are supposed to regulate?

      1. Sir Sham Cad

        Re: "asset management period set out by regulator Ofwat"

        Little known fact: Ofwat stands for Ombudsman for Watching anything else but what we're supposed to.

    2. WonkoTheSane

      Re: "asset management period set out by regulator Ofwat"

      OFWAT is just a parking spot for future water company executives.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    More funny money

    ... and castles in the sky.

    I'd like to say I was surprised, but, well, you know.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sewer spills

    Full disclosure: I do work for one of the water companies (hence posting anonymously).

    The biggest annoyance I have is that because we now report on sewer spills it is suddenly terrible what we do, although it was perfectly fine when nobody knew how much it went on. There is ignorance from people about how we operate and fund things and whilst I might agree on CEO pay there is a lot of restrictions. I disagree with the paying shareholders dividends as they pay for a lot of the big projects we run and if the don't get a return on that investment they won't give us the money.

    Ultimately, whilst everyone blames the companies (including OFWAT) OFWAT tell us every AMP we have to charge customers less in real terms than we did before, we have to do more with the money we have and hit certain targets. They always seem to forget that part when it comes to how we need to do more.

    They never discuss how operating bills are going up like everyone else including electricity and chemicals. They never mention how they limit what money we have available to spend, from what we charge customers. Nobody ever explains how we wave the magic wand to get rid of sewer overflows without causing property level flooding. Massive investment is needed, which costs money, but we have to charge people less each year whilst we get hammered by other utilities.

    We will get there but it is going to take a lot of time and investment to do so.

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Sewer spills

      I sort of expected that level of interference from OFTWAT.

      But to say that no-one knew about the level of sewerage outflow is a little disingenuous. For instance Cavers have been complaining for years about an outflow straight into a cave entrance, rendering it unusable for months at a time. Surfers and swimmers have been complaining for years as well. Just because it hasn't reached the Daily Fail doesn't mean that people aren't complaining to the water companies and MPs. It just means that the recipients aren't listening!

      1. Jim Whitaker

        Re: Sewer spills

        And it is a reflection of the short (nine day?) attention span of the media. No wait, perhaps it is us who have the short attention span and the media are just doing what we want?

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      always seem to forget that part when it comes to how

      Well I guess they leave out the "how" because they are a regulator, not the operator.

      I do sympathise with being asked to do the impossible. It's the gap between overreaching ambition and reality that exists whether you are in the public or private sector. I just see the large amounts of profit taken since privatisation, and a curiously close alignment with the level of indebtedness accrued in the same time period.

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Sewer spills

      How do I put this mildly...

      The biggest annoyance I have is that because we now report on sewer spills it is suddenly terrible what we do, although it was perfectly fine when nobody knew how much it went on.
      You and I both know this is bollocks. Surfers against Sewage have made noise about sewage release into the sea for over 3 decades (33 years to be precise), and it's been known for years (and been complained about) about the sewage release into the Thames (particularly on the Tideway).

      It's that people are finally fed up. Folks have discovered things like free swimming, paddleboarding and the like during the pandemic, and they've suddenly also experienced the floaty turds as they swim or paddleboard and are horrified. Thames Water had the Tideway Tunnel in their plans for quite a while, and I know Londoners will be delighted to see it spring into action to turn the proverbial pouring shit off like a tap. I know quite a few athletes and their coaches who will sing the praises of this extraordinary infrastructure project. But others elsewhere are looking at the TT and go "how come our water company can't do this?"

      You mention that you have to keep your shareholders sweet. Yeah, sure, but do remember that some shareholders (like Macquarie from Oz) are not there for the long haul. They ramped up the price for Thames Water like mad so they could cash in and bugger back off to Sydney. Sadly, the three major shareholders of TW decided to buy at that price and saddled the company with debt that it now struggles to repay. It should be made very clear to shareholders that the water business is highly regulated and is not there to make money, but rather provide *utility*.

      That said, not everything is water company management's fault. Yes, you're kinda stuck with your regulated business, but when new developments are being proposed or built, the water company should be objecting where there is a lack of capacity, or demand that the developers pay for improved sewage works or include measures in their developments to be able to handle all that. Run-off ponds are rarely seen in housing developments, yet they can relieve pressure from the sewage system (where combined sewage is being used) by storing up rainwater runoff Tideway Tunnel style (and Tokyo does this during cyclone season) instead of directing it all into the sewers.

      There is stuff that can be done, and sure, it'll require long term planning and investment, but telling me and countless others that well, that's just how it is, is not acceptable. Water companies need to clean up their acts, end of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sewer spills

        Thames Water is arguably a specific case, and they have done almost everything wrong.

        As for Surfers against Sewage, they were seen as a small group. Excluding special interest groups people were very quiet.

        A final thought on your comments which are overall well argued, apart from the bollocks comment. Water companies are trying to use a hierarchy where Suds schemes and the like should be used for surface management. People don't like them because they then have maintenance costs. As for new builds we cannot refuse a connection. The best we can do is request the developer connects to a different part of the network if available but they can ignore us. We are not a statutory consultee for planning permission and can only register a note of interest.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Sewer spills

          You describe SAS as 'they were seen as a small group'. Were seen as that by whom? The water companies? That's where your problem is. You discount the tiny minority who actually have to endure your sub-optimal water management (in plain parlance, your disgusting habit of pouring shit into the sea). That's how movements start, mate. Instead of addressing what those who have to swim in your raw effluent have to say, you discount them, and then act all shocked when they come back to haunt you.

          As for developments, you as a water company may not be a statutory consultee, but you damn well can involve yourself actively in the developments by monitoring planning permission portals. Yes, that requires someone to actively log in and look for such planning applications and actively notify management about more developments coming down the turnpike. And if the water company raises capacity issues time and time again with developments, it should become clear to the local authorities that there is a problem, and if the water company puts in planning permission for an expansion of their own, that it's maybe more justified!

          From my own experience... rowing clubs aren't usually consultees about river development either, but you can bet your ass that they will involve themselves in what happens on their stretch of river because *they use it daily*. They will object, rightly so, when there is something that will negatively affect their enjoyment of the river, but you will also find that they will be appreciative of developments that improve the river to the enjoyment of everyone.

          That's one thing you water company folks have to get into your heads. People want to enjoy rivers and coastlines that are *clean* (relatively). When surfers, paddleboarders, swimmers etc point out that water quality has dropped (they surf/swim/paddleboard daily/weekly, and they are actual humans who perceive things better than you who rely on sensors, and by the sounds of it, often on *broken/faulty* sensors), *do* something about it. It's not something to just... ignore.

          Oh, and P.S... I'm not the one who downvoted you. :-)

    4. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Sewer spills

      Nobody ever explains how we wave the magic wand and spaff millions to shareholders.

    5. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Sewer spills

      "although it was perfectly fine when nobody knew how much it went on."

      Er, no. It wasn't fine because we didn't know about it. It was never fine.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SAP and Workday ?

    If they are running SAP for Finance, what the fuck are they doing with Workday ? (.. and some mentioned if applications from Oracle).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SAP and Workday ?

      Perhaps Workday for their HCM (HR) stuff?

      Who knows, large orgs often end up with a mix of vendor solutions for all kinds of reasons.

      It's interesting they are looking to replace and not optomize/upgrade what they have

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