Innovative minds sprint to tackle flood reduction

Flooding is one of the worst experiences imaginable for homeowners.

It can wreak havoc on a peoples’ homes, causing thousands of pounds of damage to floors, walls and belongings and even put lives at risk.

Climate change is bringing frequent and more intense rainfall, and together with more development and more concrete, it means there are fewer places for rainwater to drain safely away.

In 2012, the independent Climate Change Committee estimated that flood damage from surface water run-off could increase by more than 200% over the next 50 years.

This summer, a North East water company is determined to reduce the risk of flooding across the region by managing rainwater better.

Northumbrian Water will be working with the Institution of Civil Engineers and Wavin at its Innovation Festival next month, held at Newcastle Racecourse. Over the five-day event, the organisations will explore better ways of managing surface water during heavy rainfall and storms.

They’ll be looking at improved use of sustainable drainage solutions, often known as SuDS, to help soak up rainwater naturally and how working with partners can have a bigger impact on flood reduction.

The group will also explore how technical data can help plan proactive sewer maintenance ahead of a heavy rainfall event, targeting assets that might require more thorough maintenance to try and reduce the number of floods.

Capturing rainfall and surface water, to treat at a later date and then supply customers with, is another option which will be explored. Innovative solutions that allow for better storage of rainwater could help address water scarcity.

Simon Cyhanko, Head of Wastewater Networks at Northumbrian Water, said: “Whether it’s internal or external, we know that flooding can cause a great deal of distress.

“Climate change will put increasing pressure on our ability to prevent flooding incidents, and we need to work together with our partners to look at ways we can manage rainfall better.

“We’re very much looking forward to the Innovation Festival where we will use the engineers and technical experts in the room to come up with some really innovative solutions to better manage surface water in future.”

The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival 2019 takes place at Newcastle Racecourse between 8 to 12 July.

More than 3,000 people from around the world are expected at the festival, including industry experts, engineers, students and customers, where they will search for solutions to major societal and environmental challenges.

Nathan Baker, ICE Engineering Knowledge Director, said: “Civil engineers play a critical role in managing our precious water resources, including surface water and flood prevention. Responsible water resource management is vital for a sustainable future, protecting people’s homes and livelihoods.

“Through initiatives such as the Innovation Festival, ICE is providing the knowledge and resources that water engineering professionals need to tackle the challenges they face.”

Martin Lambley, Product Manager for Stormwater Management at Wavin said “We look forward to seeing the creative and impactful solutions that result from this sprint. By bringing together a wide range of industry professionals and stakeholders in such an innovative environment, we hope to be able to find new ways to manage surface water and prevent flooding.

“We know that SuDS and sewer maintenance are likely to be a key part of the answer but innovation and collaboration will be key to ensuring that the solutions can provide optimal resilience for our built environments, especially with the ever increasing impacts of climate change and urbanisation.”

To sign up to the ‘Finding better ways to manage surface water’ activity at this year's Innovation Festival, or to find out more about it and the other exciting sprints that will be taking place, visit


Janine RillandsComment