The recent flooding and drought in our region are the forerunners to longer-term climate change impacts. Our strategic risk planning to address these is mature, but we recognise the ongoing need to improve our understanding of climate risks. We have therefore adopted a 25-year planning horizon (to 2040) to ensure the resilience of our water resources (see our Water Resource Management Plan) and to enable the sustainable future management of drainage systems.
In 2011, we published our first adaptation report (PDF 3.48 MB opens in new window) that explains to government how we are preparing for a changing climate. It sets out how we intend to manage material risks associated with climate change and outlines our partnership-based approach. Our second adaptation report (PDF 2.08 MB opens in new window), published in 2015, builds on this and reports progress on our actions.
A more sustainable approach to the development, management and operation of our assets is needed to effectively adapt to climate change. For example, making our sewers bigger to accommodate the increased rainfall is no longer a sustainable approach. Instead, we are adapting to climate change through a more holistic, integrated and partnership-based approach.
For more detailed information on how we have incorporated climate change into our business strategy refer to our CDP response.
Reducing demand for water is paramount, and our efforts to encourage and support water efficiency are increasing. We are working with external partners to integrate our messaging further afield, monitoring our own water usage and reducing leakage. We are certified by the Carbon Trust Standard for Water.
In terms of managing water supply and demand, we already have an integrated supply zone covering the majority of the North West. Generally, this system is proficient in managing demand, but where there are extremities that remain ill-equipped to deal with future challenges, we bring more supplies online to meet any potential shortfalls.
The key risk to our wastewater service is the predicted increase in more intense rainfall across the region. The sustainable management of surface water is vital in adapting to this risk and current work to improve its management includes:
- working with Defra, DCLG, Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) and developers to promote the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS);
- working with LLFAs and the Environment Agency (EA) to develop Surface Water Management Plans across the region; and
- embedding our partnership working approach with Local Authorities, EA and others.
There is the potential to deliver enhanced benefits to all parties with sustainable interventions, implemented in collaboration with other stakeholders, which move away from traditional costly capital schemes and share the costs.
We are developing our risk based approach using data on population growth and climate change, amongst others, to predict both the current and future risks to our sewerage network. We can then combine our risk data with that from other stakeholders to identify areas of common risk and facilitate partnerships to jointly resolve problems.
The requirement for other stakeholders to adapt to climate change is an opportunity to establish better working relationships with key stakeholders and regulators. It enables us to address the barriers and interdependencies needed to manage adaptation activities, and deliver mutual benefits. This will lead to robust sustainable solutions for complex issues and reduce the costs of adaptation activities.