There are over 250,000 miles of sewers in the UK, leading to over 6,000 treatment plants which process around 10 billion litres of wastewater. The scale of the challenge facing civil engineers is clear and has significant impact – how to develop a sustainable drainage strategy for cities of the future.

Water UK, the industry body representing water and wastewater service supply organisations within the United Kingdom, has set out this challenge in the ‘Delivering 21st Century Drainage’ initiative.

Professor John Bridgeman, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Vice Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Water Expert Panel, represents the Institution on Water UK’s 21st Century Drainage Programme Board.

In his post ‘Draining 21st Century Cities’, Professor Bridgeman said ‘Although we currently enjoy our best ever river and coastal water quality, there remain many new challenges ahead. We must balance the needs of people and their expectations of the urban environment with the mega challenges of climate change and extreme weather, changes to demographics and resource depletion.’

‘The 21st Century Drainage Programme is about meeting the needs of tomorrow affordably, in a sustainable manner, in partnership with other key stakeholders.’

The two organisations are aligned on priority areas for addressing future challenges for sector, including reviewing statutory frameworks and developing better understanding of how urban drainage systems work.