When the Government released its “Water for Life” White Paper in December 2011, it was rightly aware of the size and implications of its task.
To quote its own summary, “Water for Life” describes a vision for future water management in which the water sector is resilient, water companies are more efficient and customer focused, and water is valued as the precious and finite resource it is. And it explains that we all have a part to play in the realisation of this vision.
No small task, then – and now that the Draft Water Bill has been published on 10 July 2012, we will see in time just how the Government and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman’s plans actually work out.
Certainly, it envisages broad and in some cases radical changes as necessary. Given the pressures on our infrastructure capacity and risks from climate change, it wants to encourage the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) wherever they will be effective.
No doubt about it, SuDS can be best solution to many drainage and stormwater attenuation needs – hence the inclusion of SuDS techniques among our range of solutions.
Given the right ground conditions and water management system, mirroring the natural process of drainage is not just possible, it can also provide natural habitat, filter and also recharge local groundwater. Plus reducing flood risk, of course.
The Government realises that surface water flooding is complex and often includes flooding from water courses, sewers and drainage networks at the same time.
Notably, “Water for Life” includes some food for thought for developers, who might no longer have the automatic right to connect to existing sewers systems to ensure they consider more effectively where and how to drain surface water.
Besides consulting on national standards for SuDS and a new approval system for sustainable drainage, the Government proposes to encourage the use of SuDS by water and sewerage companies.
To this end, it intends to work with Ofwat to improve dissemination of cost and benefit data and look at removing regulatory incentives for water companies to implement traditional piped drainage solutions.
As we continue to play our own role in ensuring best practice solutions in this and all areas of water management, we are keen to see them and the whole Bill develop.