Water & Floods

Infrastructure can deliver a safe and reliable water supply and improved flood resilience to keep pace with a changing climate and growing population.

Updated:

London's flood barrier on river Thames and Canary Wharf

With extreme weather events such as floods and drought more likely in future years, cities, towns and villages need to be prepared. Currently one million homes in the UK have more than one per cent chance of flooding in any given year, and there is a 1 in 4 chance of a severe drought before 2050.

Similarly, the demands on our water and waste water systems are increasing as the population grows.

The Commission advises on how government can work with industry and other stakeholders to mitigate such risks with long term plans for adaption and resilience.

For instance, we have made recommendations to government advocating a catchment based approach to flood resilience that avoids only responding to the latest major weather incident after the event, and provides greater clarity to families and businesses on the likelihood of flooding to their property.

To avoid the risk of severe drought, the Commission’s analysis suggests that additional water supply and demand reduction totalling 4,000Ml/day should be delivered by 2050 – that’s the equivalent of 50,000 bath tubs of water per day. The Commission’s work seeks to inform decision making about the future capacity of the water supply and wastewater systems in England, by increasing capacity and reducing leaks and wastage to reduce the risk of drought.

Latest Updates

Letter to Environment Secretary from Commission Chair: floods policy
National Infrastructure Assessment 1

Letter to Environment Secretary from Commission Chair: floods policy

Commission Chair Sir John Armitt has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon George Eustice MP, setting out the Commission’s views in response to to the government’s recently updated flooding and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England, launched on 14 July 2020.

11 Aug 2020 By
New package of flood prevention measures welcomed

New package of flood prevention measures welcomed

The government had today published a policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management. This sets out a range of measures the government proposes taking to improve resilience to flood and coastal erosion risk. In response to the statement, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said: “This significant package to better...

14 Jul 2020 By
Metering will save us water sooner

Metering will save us water sooner

It’s not surprising that household water consumption has surged during the Covid19 lockdown. We’re washing our hands more than ever, and many of us are home all day using our bathrooms and kitchens. But even before lockdown, some of us were already using more water than we need – by taking long showers, watering our...

15 May 2020 By
Water resources framework offers “bold vision” for future drought resilience
Close up of chrome tap, water running

Water resources framework offers “bold vision” for future drought resilience

The Environment Agency has today published its National Framework for Water Resources. This aims to help reduce demand, halve leakage rates, develop new supplies, move water to where it’s needed and reduce the need for drought measures that can harm the environment. Commenting on the framework, Commissioner Dame Kate Barker said: “With demand for water...

16 Mar 2020 By
Commission vision for drought resilience recognised by engineering experts

Commission vision for drought resilience recognised by engineering experts

The National Infrastructure Commission’s work on improving the resilience of England’s water supply to drought has received the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Chris Binnie Award for Sustainable Water Management. The Commission’s 2018 report Preparing for a drier future made a strong economic case for addressing future drought risk by boosting the resilience of the water...

7 Oct 2019 By
Consultation on flood and coastal erosion in England highlights need for new standard of resilience

Consultation on flood and coastal erosion in England highlights need for new standard of resilience

The Environment Agency has today begun consulting on the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England proposing a new approach based on a recommendation made in the National Infrastructure Assessment. The Agency’s strategy will ensure the country is prepared for a potential 4° C rise in global temperatures and aims to ensure...

8 May 2019 By
Water shortage warning highlights urgency of resilience
Water running down a metal drain.

Water shortage warning highlights urgency of resilience

The Environment Agency has today called for action to address the threat of water shortages in England’s water supply in the face of pressure from climate change and population growth – following a similar call by the National Infrastructure Commission for action to build a more resilient water infrastructure. The 2018 National Infrastructure Assessment highlighted...

19 Mar 2019 By
Future of Regulation Study: call for evidence
Documents on a desk

Future of Regulation Study: call for evidence

18 Feb 2019
Shoring up our water supplies

Shoring up our water supplies

This week we marked 10 years since the Climate Change Act. Since the passing of this key piece of legislation, we as a country have become international leaders in this field – yet there is clearly much more to do. As well as reducing carbon emissions we also need to prepare for the effects climate...

30 Nov 2018 By
Welcome moves by Ministers to tackle water leakages
Close up of chrome tap, water running

Welcome moves by Ministers to tackle water leakages

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to improve the resilience of England’s water supply and set a clear target to halve water leakages by 2050 – matching a key recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission. Such a move would ensure the country’s water supply system could better withstand droughts. In a speech, Environment Secretary...

27 Nov 2018 By
New report highlights need to tackle flood risk facing coastal communities

New report highlights need to tackle flood risk facing coastal communities

The Committee on Climate Change today calls for a long-term approach to protecting communities from the threat of flooding in coastal areas – echoing findings in the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment. In their report published today, the Committee on Climate Change warns that over half a million properties are at risk from flooding and...

25 Oct 2018 By
Armitt: Speech to Utility Week Congress
Portrait of Sir John Armitt

Armitt: Speech to Utility Week Congress

Below is the full text of National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt’s keynote speech to the Utility Week Congress in Birmingham on 10 October. Check against delivery. This is an exciting time to live and work here in Birmingham. The regeneration of New Street station has transformed the look and feel of the city centre, and...

10 Oct 2018 By
New water report highlights need for action on leakages and efficiency
Close up of chrome tap, water running

New water report highlights need for action on leakages and efficiency

An influential Commons select committee today calls for water companies to have powers for compulsory water metering – echoing the National Infrastructure Commission’s own findings. Currently, compulsory water metering is only permitted in water-stressed areas.  But today’s report by the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee argues that this option should...

9 Oct 2018 By
Investing in the resilience of the UK’s water supply

Investing in the resilience of the UK’s water supply

Our Commissioner Dame Kate Barker writes in the latest issue of Environment Magazine, produced by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, on the need to invest in and improve the resilience of the UK’s water supply network, particularly in light of the challenges highlighted by this year’s long hot summer. Her article can be read here. ...

20 Sep 2018 By
Water companies’ efforts to tackle leakages can look even further into the future
Water running down a metal drain.

Water companies’ efforts to tackle leakages can look even further into the future

Water companies today set out their plans for improving services between 2020 and 2025, with the aim of cutting bills, improving water quality and reducing leakages. The Manifesto for Water published by Water UK outlines plans to cut bills by more than four per cent in real terms across England, and cut leakages by more...

3 Sep 2018 By
The importance of a resilient water supply

The importance of a resilient water supply

Homes and businesses across the North West of England recently faced the prospect of a hosepipe ban, imposing similar restrictions to those consumers in Northern Ireland have been living with since the end of June. Fortunately for them, this was called off after summer storms brought some much-needed relief. This year’s exceptionally hot summer –...

National Infrastructure Assessment 1
Man among huge solar power plant

National Infrastructure Assessment 1

The National Infrastructure Assessment looks at the United Kingdom’s future economic infrastructure needs up to 2050 and makes key recommendations for how to deliver new transport, low carbon energy and digital networks, how to recycle more and waste less, and how future infrastructure should be paid for.

10 Jul 2018
Analysis of drought resilience

Analysis of drought resilience

10 Jul 2018
Flood modelling

Flood modelling

10 Jul 2018
Flood standards of protection and risk management activities
Flooded bridge

Flood standards of protection and risk management activities

10 Jul 2018
Analysis of the costs of emergency drought options
Close up of chrome tap, water running

Analysis of the costs of emergency drought options

10 Jul 2018

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