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

Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply
Dry soil and patchy grass

Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply

In a comment piece for The Times’ Red Box, Commission Chair Sir John Armitt today sets out steps to help reduce the risk of future severe drought in England. The piece, reproduced below, argues for further action on identifying leaks, expanding water metering and reducing consumer demand, and building new supply and transfer infrastructure. Sir...

8 Aug 2022 By
James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience
Electricity pylon against a cloudy sky

James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience

The Commission’s Chief Executive, James Heath, today (17 May 2022) gave a keynote address at Utility Week Live on climate adaptation and resilience. The session, held at the Birmingham NEC, explored utilities’ approaches to adaptation planning and how they are seeking to build resilience to respond to the impacts of climate change already present, as...

17 May 2022 By
James Heath sets out Commission’s approach to surface water flooding
A car splashes through a flooded Farringdon Lane in central London after a day of heavy rain.

James Heath sets out Commission’s approach to surface water flooding

James Heath, Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, addressed a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum event today (19 April 2022) on Priorities for water management. James’ speech sets out the approach the Commission is taking to its ongoing study on surface water flooding, including exploring the role of governance, performance standards and investment...

19 Apr 2022 By
NIA2 Baseline Charts
Images from the Baseline Report

NIA2 Baseline Charts

Data from the Baseline Report providing an overview of the current performance of the infrastructure sectors within the Commission's remit

16 Mar 2022
Infrastructure Progress Review 2022
Group of images reprepsenting different infrastructure sectors

Infrastructure Progress Review 2022

Our annual assessment of the government's progress on implementing its commitments on infrastructure.

16 Mar 2022
Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals
Group of images reprepsenting different infrastructure sectors

Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals

The government is at risk of failing to deliver the aims of its National Infrastructure Strategy unless it picks up the pace with detailed policy design and implementation, the UK’s official independent infrastructure adviser has warned.  The National Infrastructure Commission says that clear, long term goals are now in place across most infrastructure areas and...

16 Mar 2022 By
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
View of Manchester city centre

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
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
Picture showing a car stuck in floodwater under a bridge

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
Picture showing water leaking from a burst water main

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
Picture showing a car stuck in floodwater under a bridge

Surface Water Flooding Study: Call for Evidence

15 Nov 2021
Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report
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

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