Atkins To Develop Framework To Strengthen Drainage Resilience

Atkins, a design, engineering and project management consultancy, has announced that it has been appointed by membership organisation Water UK to develop a framework that will allow water companies to strengthen their drainage resilience when producing management plans.


The first-of-its-kind framework will build on Ofwat and the Environment Agency’s Drainage Strategy Framework, as well as the work of the 21st Century Drainage Programme. Work has already begun on the project and it’s expected to be published later on this year.


The 21st Century Drainage Programme covers how best to protect the environment and public health at an affordable cost for customers. Billions of litres of water are constantly making their way through hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes before being treated and then returned safely back to the environment.


Over the last few decades, the water industry in the UK has invested billions on behalf of customers in this regard, with rivers and streams now teeming with life. But there are external pressures that need to be prepared for so as to safeguard this for the future, such as population growth, bigger urban areas and the effects of climate change.


All this will mean that there is a greater demand for water when it’s hot and dry outside, as well as fewer green spaces to absorb the rain when it does fall, and more unpredictable weather. There are two strategic themes for the drainage programme – long-term planning and improving services through behaviour change.


At the moment, there is no statutory requirement in place for water suppliers to come up with their own long-term drainage and wastewater plans. This means that they enjoy the flexibility to produce their own within very broad guidelines.


As such, there is great demand for this framework, with Ofwat and both the Welsh and UK governments all highlighting the need for the water industry to improve upon its current approach to this kind of planning.


Project director with Atkins Brian Arkell said: “The need to provide a guiding framework for the long-term planning of drainage and wastewater services that can be applied across England and Wales, and potentially have relevance for other parts the UK, has never been so clear. Population growth, new development, urban creep and climate change are all putting increasing pressure on our drainage systems.


“A strategic and joined-up long-term strategy will be an essential part of how the industry strengthens its drainage resilience for generations to come. Atkins is well-placed to drive the development of this framework, having led on a number of initiatives that have shaped the future of the water industry, including the first study to look at the long-term resilience of public water supply and also the creation of wastewater resilience metrics that will be adopted by all water companies in England and Wales. Both projects were undertaken for Water UK.”


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