Collaboration needed for 21st century drainage, says Water UK report

Creating more resilient drainage systems will require a new level of collaboration between water companies, local authorities and community stakeholders, Water UK's 21st Century Drainage report has said.

The communication document of the multi-faceted programme seeks to be the ‘start of a conversation’ between stakeholders about how these groups can work together to reduce flood risk in sewers and urban infrastructure.

It calls on organisations to put aside traditional silos to address shared challenges such as promoting the use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), reducing infiltration of sewers, preventing plumbing misconnections, educating the public on what they should put into the sewerage system, replacing ageing infrastructure and reducing pollution from combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

The 21st Century Drainage programme, led by a board chaired by Welsh Water’s director of environment Tony Harrington, contains seven distinct workstreams, for which working groups have been formed and project work in underway. These are: communications and engagement; defining and managing drainage capacity; addressing overflows that operate frequently; tackling sewer misuse; groundwater inundation of drainage systems; enablers to progress; and drainage infrastructure deterioration.

“The water industry has invested billions of pounds over the last few decades on behalf of customers,” Tony Harrington, chair of the Water UK 21st Century Drainage Programme Board, said in the report’s foreword. “Working in partnership with the UK’s governments, regulators and community groups, we have rivers and streams that are now abundant with life.

“There is much still to do, but we have seen the benefits of that investment. However, there are very real external pressures that we have to prepare for now, to ensure our children and grandchildren can build on this success. More people, bigger towns and cities and the effects of climate change will mean a greater demand for water when it’s hot and dry, fewer green spaces to absorb the rain when it’s wet, and more unpredictable weather.”

“Everyone in the water sector realises the scale of the challenge, and that is why more than 40 organisations from across the UK – governments, regulators, local authorities, environmental charities, academics and community groups – have joined Water UK for this 21st Century Drainage Programme,” wrote Harrington.

“Since the programme started, the political landscape has changed significantly. Those involved in the programme believe it is the right thing to do, irrespective of whether we are subject to wider European legislation, which is why we are seeking to identify the major risks for drainage in the future, and to provide options for policy makers based on sound research and evidence.”

The programme is inviting views from all interested parties on how the sector can ‘increase the pace of collaborative action’ across communities, stakeholder and those investing in infrastructure. Views are invited by e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter using the hashtag #21CDrainage.

View the full report here:

This article first appeared on wwtonline