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Affinity Water Case Study

15 February 2024
Meet Affinity Water in South East England (UK) with a vision to become the leading community-focused water supply company, with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 14064-1 helping make it possible.

(Updated February 2024)

 *Note: This case study uses URL links from the NQA UK Sustainability Hub. If your business is based elsewhere in the world, please get in touch with NQA in your country to learn more about sustainability.

About Affinity Water: Keeping the UK hydrated

Affinity Water is the largest water-only supplier in the UK, providing 950 million litres of drinking water daily in South East England.

Their high-quality water is supplied to more than 3.83 million people in parts of:

  • Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey

  • The London Boroughs of Harrow, Hillingdon, Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield

  • The Tendring peninsula in Essex and the Folkestone and Dover areas of Kent

Formed in 2012, following the sale and unification of Veolia Water Central, Veolia Water East and Veolia Water Southeast, Affinity Water’s vision is to become the leading community-focused water supply company.

ISO standards within the water industry

Affinity Water sets out various key requirements for their management systems, with a commitment to zero-harm:

ISO 9001 (Quality Management) supports the company in achieving its objectives, guiding management through processes and procedures to improve customer-facing activities.

ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) shows the community that Affinity Water continues to care about the environmental impact of their operations amid increased water demands.

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety Management) highlights the company’s commitment to all stakeholders about occupational health, wellbeing and safety on-site and in the field.

ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) reflects Affinity Water’s dedication to sustainability and reducing the impacts of climate change, all while continuing to supply high-quality water.

Learn more about the benefits of each ISO standard by visiting the NQA certification page.

Quality, the environment and health & safety (2011 – 2019)

Grant Wordsworth joined Veolia Water in 2011 as their Quality Manager, where he was responsible for unifying and managing the quality management system (ISO 9001) for their three supply regions: Veolia Water Central, Veolia Water East and Veolia Water Southeast.

When Affinity Water was created a year later, unification was a priority – and all three regions became ISO 9001-certified under a single quality management system.

The success of Affinity Water’s quality management system unification was followed by ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 in early 2013 (which migrated to ISO 45001, Health & Safety Management, in 2019).

Katy Francis joined Affinity Water in June 2022 as Climate Change and Carbon Manager.

Having achieved the ISO standard ‘triad’, Affinity Water’s next stop was sustainability.

Placing sustainability in the spotlight (2023)

In September 2023, Affinity Water achieved ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) verification.

Why Affinity Water cares about sustainability

According to Grant, “The UK's weather will continue to vary, but we'll see more of these types of weather. The good news is that we're taking steps to prepare for these changes. We're committed to mitigating the impacts of climate change and ensuring we can continue to provide high-quality water in the future.

We've even produced a Climate Change Adaptation Report that outlines the risks we face and the steps we're taking to manage them. Plus, we're doing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve ‘Net Zero’. Certification for ISO 14064-1 validates our plan and shows we are committed to doing what we say we do.”

According to Katy, “Affinity Water has been estimating greenhouse emissions operational activities for several years. Achieving ISO 14064-1 verification was a logical next step on our journey of improving and expanding the breadth of this reporting.

We have a Net Zero strategy in which we have set ourselves some challenging targets. Achieving verification means our customers, regulators and other stakeholder can be confident that we are serious about carbon management and reduction.”

The reason for ISO 14064-1 verification

Affinity Water chose ISO 14064-1 as the basis of the assessment, as it:

  • Is widely recognised within the water industry

  • Aligns well with the company’s existing practices

Given that the information had already been gathered, Affinity Water could avoid duplications – alongside the additional effort to have their processes, evidence and records assessed.

Preparing for ISO 14064-1 verification

Affinity Water’s internal teams prepared for the ISO 14064-1 verification assessment, starting with a gap analysis.

A key challenge for the company was demonstrating the site-based emissions, as they had previously used aggregated whole company data. Fortunately, Affinity Water’s site-based production teams helped source the correct data.

Another obstacle the company overcame was arranging the assessment. As NQA would be visiting over nine days, Affinity Water spent the weeks leading up to the start date ensuring that people would be available and work around operational constraints.

Conducting the ISO 14064-1 assessment

Affinity Water’s ISO 14064-1 verification assessment took place over nine days, carried out by NQA Carbon & Sustainability Services Director Stephen Burt and Principal Assessor for Environment & Energy Richard Walsh.

As Stephen and Richard visited different sites, they robustly challenged processes, data classifications and calculations. While the NQA assessment team stuck to the visit plan, they dipped into other areas when justified or if relevant questions arose.

The ISO 14064-1 assessment was a success, with Affinity Water achieving verification shortly after. Quoting Grant, “The value of an external assessment cannot be underestimated in its ability to motivate people to become carbon literate.”

The benefits of ISO 14064-1 verification

Affinity Water’s ISO 14064-1 assessment identified some opportunities to include additional information to reduce the uncertainty associated with the CO2e calculations.

“ISO 14064-1 verification will help us deliver on our commitments to the environment, our stakeholders and our 3.83 million customers. The verification process will continue helping us improve to meet our targets and reduce our impact on the environment.”

Choosing NQA for over a decade

ISO standards offer an established design for managing a complex organisation like Affinity Water, from top management down to all operations.

Quoting Grant: “NQA was selected as an appropriate, accredited certification body due to their experience in the water industry and familiarity with the standards.”

With 30 years’ experience in the quality management field, Grant had high expectations for working with a certification body. He continues to be impressed by the:

  • Quality and expertise of the auditing service provided by NQA

  • Working relationship developed, where rules and protocols are fully understood

"The audit team is what makes NQA stand out. The opening meeting, which is attended by senior company management, is presented in a professional manner and provides everybody with a full explanation of the processes to be expected."

Final thoughts from NQA

NQA congratulates Affinity Water for their ongoing success with:

The company’s certified management system means they can demonstrate compliance with established management processes, prove the process data is reliable, and ultimately identify improvement opportunities in the overall business.

NQA offers a host of globally recognised ISO standards. Visit our certification page today.

Looking to get ISO-certified, or thinking of transferring to NQA? Speak to our sales experts.

Download a PDF version of Affinity Water's case study here.