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Contractors call for water grid study

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) has called for a feasibility study to consider options for bulk transfer of water across the UK.

In its Infrastructure: The Routemap for Growth report, published last week, CECA said: “We need to be able to balance water availability more effectively, moving it from areas of surplus to areas of demand.”

The idea of a UK-wide bulk transfer network has previously been dismissed as being “too costly, too environmentally damaging and too grand a design for the need” by the ICE, which instead favours interconnections between adjacent water supply areas.

CECA has also called for mandatory sustainable drainage to reduce the risk of flooding.

The government recently announced that it is delaying implementation of proposals on sustainable drainage that were initially set to be brought in next month.

The delay follows a consultation on the plans, which include new national standards for sustainable drainage systems.

Most people and organisations that responded to the consultation said they did not think the proposed new national standards would result in drainage for surface runoff being sustainable and affordable to build and maintain.

Readers' comments (2)

  • A risk analysis based approach offers an opportunity to cost effectively create resilient local systems with strategic interconnections to create regional systems where sufficient resilience cannot be achieved locally. Such systems will need to address the potential impacts of inter basin transfers and impacts to water quality where blending occurs. A complete national water grid should not be required. Mutual aid agreements for deployment of staff and equipment, backed by tabletop exercises, drills and self audits may close some of the gaps, without incurring infrastructure costs.

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  • The concept of the bulk water transfer network from north to south, as regarded by many, is too simplistic as a considerable local infrastructure to deliver the water to the areas of stress would also have to be provided.
    At the height of the severe droughts of the early and mid 1990's, Southern Water Services considered a number of ways of enhancing the resources of its region. Bulk transfers were considered but also whether water could be imported by making use of redundant oil tankers. These would also provide a measure of local storage which is often under pressure during severe drought. Substantial works would be needed to bring it ashore at locations where it could be fed into the local distribution systems but these are likely to have a far smaller impact than from a land based bulk network. However, a major problem is the shallow seas off much of the south coast requiring tanker terminals to be located some way offshore.
    I have not been involved in any of these issues for more than 15 years but is it worth revisiting this concept in the light of present day circumstances?
    Rod Armstrong

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