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 nearly 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 wastewater 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 and through measures like a catchment based approach to flood resilience.

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. Our 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 the Second National Infrastructure Assessment, the Commission recommends that government and Ofwat – the regulator – should together ensure plans are in place to deliver additional supply and demand reduction of at least 4,000 Ml/day, including at least 1,300 Ml/day provided by the mid-2030s through new transfer and storage infrastructure provided through the RAPID process.

Our 2022 study on the risk of surface water flooding found that up to 600,000 properties could be at high risk of this type of flooding over the next three decades. In response, the report said stricter controls on new developments connecting to existing drainage systems, along with up to £12bn in additional investment in drainage infrastructure, could move up to 250,000 properties in England out of this high risk category.

This and other recommendations on surface water flooding were subsequently reflected in the second Assessment, alongside a recommendation for government to set a long term, measurable target to reduce the number of properties likely to be flooded by rivers or the sea.

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

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