Surface water flooding   |   Study

Surface Water Flooding Study: Call for Evidence

The Call for Evidence closed on 20 December 2021.

Tagged: Water & Floods


The government has asked the National Infrastructure Commission to provide recommendations on effective approaches to the management of surface water flooding in England.

Surface water flooding is the most common flood risk in England, with 3.2 million properties at risk.1 Surface water flooding occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms drainage infrastructure (which includes combined sewers) or does not soak into the ground, resulting in water ponding or surface overflow. Our approach will be based on the terms of reference for the Surface Water Flooding Study. The Commission will deliver recommendations to government by November 2022.

The study is complementary to wider work by the Commission on its second National Infrastructure Assessment. The Commission plans to publish its second National Infrastructure Assessment in Autumn 2023.

This call for evidence has been published at the same time as the Commission’s Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report. The report provides a data-driven assessment of the performance of infrastructure across the Commission’s six sectors; sets out the key themes that will shape the future of infrastructure and presents the rationale for projects that the Commission has chosen to focus on over the next two years. This rationale includes further detail on the Commission’s initial thinking on the challenge of surface water flooding. The baseline report also acts as a call for evidence to support the wider development of the second National Infrastructure Assessment.

In undertaking its independent study, the Commission will:

  1. analyse risks of surface water flooding and the opportunities to address these risks in the short term and long term.
  2. consider the nature of surface water flooding in urban and rural locations and the role of drainage systems to manage and prevent surface water flooding, and any improvements needed to these systems.
  3. assess the state of collaboration across different flood risk management authorities operating at the local, regional, and national level and consider implications of the effectiveness of current approaches to short-term and long-term surface water flood risk management and areas for improvement.

The Commission’s recommendations will feed into the water sector’s development of its Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans. Drafts of these are due in summer 2022 with final plans expected in spring 2023.2 In addition, the study will contribute to government’s continued progress of its surface water management action plan3 and Ofwat’s next price review in 2024.4

Car driving through floodwater

Status:  Completed

Surface water flooding

A study on effective approaches to the management of surface water flooding in England.

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