Fifteen new projects will consider how to reduce the impacts of urban drainage flooding in towns and cities across England and how best to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change. More intense and frequent rainfall events are expected as a result of climate change. The studies, announced by Defra today, will pinpoint areas at risk, identify the causes and consider the best ways of managing urban drainage to reduce future flooding.
Flooding from surface water and urban drainage in towns and cities currently costs the national economy £270 million on average each year, according to the Government's own research. But this could increase by up to £15 billion by the 2080s, if action is not taken.
The projects were announced during a visit by Ian Pearson, Minister for Climate Change and Environment, to Great Yarmouth, where residents have recently suffered from surface water flooding. Welcoming the launch of the £1.7 million pilots Mr Pearson said:
“Adapting to the impacts of climate change is vital if we are to manage the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. We can't ignore the consequences which is why we need to start adapting now.
“The issue of urban drainage flooding is of growing concern to towns and cities across England. Many homes and businesses have already suffered from the devastating impacts. But climate change will make the problem of urban flooding more serious because of the increased likelihood of more intense and frequent rain storms.
“These 15 pilot studies will test new approaches to reduce the future impact of urban drainage flooding on people's lives and their businesses. This will help us understand the problem of surface water flooding better in urban areas and will help us consider how arrangements can be improved in future.”
The flooding of homes and businesses in towns and cities is typically due to a range of factors, including high river levels, concentrations of overland flow following heavy rainfall, limited capacity of drainage systems and blockage of waterways and drainage channels. Some problems can be isolated to a single cause but more often it is a combination of factors which causes the worst flooding.
Urban flooding is particularly challenging to manage – partly because several different organisations are responsible for different aspects of the problem including water companies, the Environment Agency, local authorities and the Highways Agency. The Integrated Urban Drainage pilot projects will see the various bodies working together to develop solutions and will help Government consider the best arrangements for reducing flood risk in our towns and cities.
The pilots will also provide new tools and techniques for mapping and managing surface water following heavy rainfall events and bring more clarity on responsibilities for those managing urban flood risk.