Achieving Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future project

Mid-project Report  ‘In March 2015 House of Commons Commission of Inquiry into flood resilience highlighted the challenge of dealing with increasingly frequent and severe floods, stating, “what is required is a fundamental change in how we view flood management, from flood defence where we protect ourselves to one of resilience, living with and making space for water and the opportunity to get “more from less” by seeing all forms of water as providing multiple benefits (House of Commons, 2015).” The Commission’s statement immediately followed a prolonged period of severe and widespread coastal, river, surface water and groundwater flooding between December 2013 and 2014 (Thorne, 2014). It was, in turn followed by intense, prolonged rainfall and catastrophic flooding in December 2015 that provided an unwelcome but powerful endorsement of that statement. The Environment Agency estimate 5.2 million properties in England are at risk of flooding and the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change reported in October 2015 that significant additional investment and adaptation action will be needed to counter the increase in UK flood risk expected under global warming of 2°C (Sayers et al., 2015). Key infrastructure will also be at significantly increased risk, with numbers of assets exposed to flooding by a 1:75-year event increasing by 30%. The ASC stress that the most significant contribution to risk reduction will stem from a whole system approach to adaptation, recognising interdependencies with other urban systems, including transport, energy and land-use.

The aim of the engineering-led, multidisciplinary Achieving Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future project is to conduct research necessary to make urban flood resilience1 achievable nationally, by making transformative change possible through adoption of the whole systems approach to urban flood and water management advocated by the ASC. The central research question to be addressed is how planning, design, operation and organisation of both existing and new urban water systems (including flood risk management, waste/stormwater management and water security) should be re-envisaged and transformed to:

  • ensure satisfactory service delivery under flood, normal and drought condition states;
  • enhance and extend the useful lives of ageing grey assets by supplementing and integrating them with multi-functional Blue/Green infrastructure and urban green spaces. Click here to read the report

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