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

Summary

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 one in four 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 – the equivalent of well over 22 million bath tubs of water. The Commission’s work on water 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.

In October 2021 the Commission was asked by the government to undertake a study into the risks associated with surface water flooding. This will form part of the work leading up to the second National Infrastructure Assessment, to be published in 2023, and is part of the programme of work set out in the Baseline Report for the second Assessment linked to the strategic theme of climate resilience and protecting the environment, one of three shaping the Commission’s work.

Water & floods data

A range of water & floods data sets is available to review on our Data page. This includes data sets used in Commission reports, as well as historic data sets. Each can be reviewed online or downloaded. 

Review data

Latest Updates

Regional water plans a positive step towards drought resilience for England
Picture of a reservoir in Somerset

Regional water plans a positive step towards drought resilience for England

Commitments by water companies to take action together to secure long term water supplies for consumers and businesses in England have been welcomed by the Commission as an important step towards achieving long term resilience to drought. Consultations are now underway on new draft water resource management plans by the five regional water resources groups....

18 Jan 2022 By
National Infrastructure Assessment

National Infrastructure Assessment

An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.

15 Nov 2021
Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment
Cover images from the Baseline Report

Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the topics that will sit at the heart of its next major assessment of the UK’s long term infrastructure priorities, to be published in 2023, following analysis of the current performance of key sectors. The priorities will include identifying the infrastructure needed for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage...

15 Nov 2021 By
Baseline Report Annex C: Flood resilience

Baseline Report Annex C: Flood resilience

Analysis of the country's approach to flood risk management, which informs the Baseline Report.

15 Nov 2021
Baseline Report Annex D: Water and wastewater

Baseline Report Annex D: Water and wastewater

Analysis of the country's water and wastewater infrastructure which informs the Baseline Report for the second National Infrastructure Assessment.

15 Nov 2021
Surface Water Flooding Study: Call for Evidence

Surface Water Flooding Study: Call for Evidence

15 Nov 2021
Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report
Cover images from the Baseline Report

Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report

Our analysis of the performance of key infrastructure sectors which will inform the work leading to the UK's second National Infrastructure Assessment

15 Nov 2021
Commission to investigate surface water flooding risks
Car driving through floodwater

Commission to investigate surface water flooding risks

The government has asked the independent National Infrastructure Commission to investigate how the risks of surface water flooding can be better managed, following a spate of inland flooding incidents in recent months.  The Commission will seek to identify improvements needed to England’s drainage systems to manage and mitigate surface water flooding in both urban and rural areas.  Surface water flooding is the most common flood...

27 Oct 2021 By
Reducing the risks of surface water flooding
Car driving through floodwater

Reducing the risks of surface water flooding

A study exploring how responsible bodies in England can better manage and mitigate surface water flooding.

27 Oct 2021
Climate resilience focus welcomed in proposed water strategic policy statement
Close up of chrome tap, water running

Climate resilience focus welcomed in proposed water strategic policy statement

The National Infrastructure Commission has welcomed aspects of the draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat, published today (22 July 2021). The statement sets out the government’s strategic priorities and expectations for Ofwat’s regulation of the water sector in England. Giles Stevens, Director of Policy at the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Strategic policy statements play an...

22 Jul 2021 By
Public engagement needed for water usage plans to work, says Commission
Water running down a metal drain.

Public engagement needed for water usage plans to work, says Commission

Today (1 July) government has published a Written Ministerial Statement on steps to reduce personal water consumption. It follows a public consultation on the subject held in 2019, and outlines measures government intends to take to encourage water efficient products and introduce a more consistent approach to leakage. In response, a spokesperson for the National...

1 Jul 2021 By
Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission
Montage of images representing infrastructure, including a woman charging an electric vehicle and a man wearing a mask using public transport

Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission

Detailed plans for decarbonising energy supply, accelerating the roll out of electric vehicle charge points and connecting hard to reach areas with high capacity broadband are among the next steps needed to ensure government can deliver its aims for levelling up and meeting the net zero target, according to the National Infrastructure Commission. The Commission’s...

17 Feb 2021 By
Letter to Environment Secretary from Commission Chair: floods policy

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

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