Waterstink presents the collective critical thoughts and opinions of Roger Ford and Duncan Thomas. Together they have a wealth of experience about the UK water industry and global water supply and sanitation policy and strategy issues. They primarily blog here about policy, economic, quality and environmental regulation, and matters of technical and organisational innovation.

Roger Ford

Roger started his career at ICI, launching and growing the highly-successful FM21, chloro alkali business. After managing a team of over 180 scientists at ICI, with an annual budget in excess of £15M, Roger was headhunted to North West Water (now part of United Utilities). There he had board-level responsibility as Director of R&D across 10 countries. Roger worked to build a team of over 50 scientists. He also led the acquisition of two membrane treatment companies which were then consolidated under one business unit. He further took on additional responsibility as Environmental Quality Director.

Roger remains a keen enthusiast of enterprise and early-stage technologies, and held the position of Professor for Innovation and Technology Strategy at the University of Salford.

Duncan Thomas

Duncan-LargeDuncan is a former Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Innovation Management and Policy at Alliance Manchester Business School and Research Fellow of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the University of Manchester. His water-related research looks at constraints and enablers of strategies and practices of innovation in the water sector. This includes regulation and policy, and actions responding to sustainability and climate change pressures. More broadly he explores the influence of policy, funding and organisational conditions on how scientific research is performed in the UK and Europe. This touches upon what strategies and practices facilitate or hinder breakthrough or ‘frontier’ outcomes. He also explores related notions of what ‘excellence’, ‘quality’, ‘value’, and ‘impact’ mean for publicly funded research.

Duncan originally read Physics at Imperial College then worked at Thorn EMI’s Central Research Laboratories as an electronic engineer. He then took two Masters degrees and an ESRCUnited Utilities sponsored PhD.

Recent activities

Duncan and Roger together wrote, The Crisis of Innovation in Water and Wastewater – a book based on Duncan’s PhD research. It addresses whether incremental or more radical technology strategies should be adopted by regulated water utility companies. After this Duncan and Roger worked together to research Barriers to Innovation in the UK Water Industry for UKWIR. This high profile work influenced UK and European water policies and practices around innovation, and led to an impact case being submitted to the UK Research Excellence Framework evaluation in 2014. Back in 2009 Duncan and Roger launched Waterstink (our first ever post is here).

Duncan has gone on to provide invited expert advice and input to various water-related bodies in the UK, Europe and globally. This has included Ofwat’s Future Regulation Advisory Panel, the European Innovation Platform for Water, working groups on water regulation for the International Water Association and invited input for the World Resources Institute. He has had the pleasure of innovating in teaching, by co-developing massive open online course materials on water and sanitation planning and policy in developing countries with Prof. Dale Whittington. These courses are available for free in two Coursera MOOCs.

The MOOCs and Duncan’s eight years of postgraduate classroom teaching with Prof. Whittington from 2010 to 2018 has featured a stellar array of water and sanitation-related intellectual innovators and practice pioneers: Tony Allan, Clarissa BrocklehurstBarbara Evans, Regina Finn, Michael HanemannArif Hasan, Kamal Kar, Stephen Littlechild, Diana Mitlin, and others.

Disclaimers, take-downs & fair use

Roger and Duncan write Waterstink in a personal capacity. All their posts are intended to be accurate, impartial and free of defamation. If you note any minor errors or technical inaccuracies please leave a comment on any post to bring such matters to their attention (such comments will not published, if so requested).

Specifically if you believe material is being used unlawfully on this blog by Waterstink, e.g., you consider it breaches copyright (either owned by you or a third party) or any other law, including but not limited to laws relating to patents, trade-marks, confidentiality, obscenity, defamation and libel, whether on its website or otherwise, please provide us with the following information:

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Please note that the Waterstink team may in exceptional circumstances quote parts of a work as fair use for the purpose of criticism or review without first contacting the rights holder, but in doing so will endeavour to ensure that:

  • The work being quoted has been made available to the public;
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  • The material quoted is accompanied by some actual discussion or assessment (to warrant the criticism or review classification); and
  • The amount of the material quoted is no more than is necessary for the purpose of the review.

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