Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Surveyors call for a tidal change on water management

March 5, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

joint approach to flood and water management is vital to help future-proof supplies amid increasing demand from people, farmers and other businesses, say surveyors.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors wants government, industry and businesses to approach the challenge of flood and water management collaboratively so the needs of a growing UK population are met as warmer temperatures take their toll.

Almost 200 surveying professionals came together at an inaugural RICS Water Conference last autumn. The event sought to highlight the water management role played by chartered surveyors working in the natural environment.

Climate change and growing populations both increase the risk of UK flooding, says RICS, which has long called for investment in holistic flood prevention and management methods.

Flood infrastructure

RICS policy manager said Martin McAuley said: “It is critical that government invests in sustainable flood defence infrastructure. Previous models have focused on keeping flood water out, but with the growing impact of climate change, this is not sustainable.

“To deal with the projected risks of flooding, government and local authorities need to prioritise flood prevention and management schemes and work with professionals in the sector to tackle flooding at the source.”

Located mainly in rural areas, such flood prevention methods include tree planning in uplands to act as a buffer and slowing down the flow of water; creating  ponds and ditches to manage and store water; and increasing soil infiltration through planting spongey bog moss.

Future resources

Mr McAuley said: “Defra’s 25-year plan took the initial steps needed to tackle this issue, but as Brexit departure date looms this could be subject to change. The UK needs to manage water close to the point of source and not try and stop it when it’s too late.

“Rural land owners can help divert and slow flood water and help build future resources, but need support to do so as part of the shift to a new regime of farm payment schemes and an increased focus on public goods.”

RICS says chartered surveyors working in the countryside have always had a key role to play in ensuring water is utilised and managed sustainably. With an increased focus on rural natural resources, it says water’s value as an asset must be maximised.

‘Serious consequences’

Without the management of water now, the UK could see the supply of water failing to keep up with a growing demand. This shortage would not only impact the daily lives of the UK but broader social problems, including the housing crisis.

To protect future water resources, RICS recommends that the government explore water sensitive urban design integration as well the construction sector reviewing water-specific life cycle costs of building and developments.

When the average person in the UK uses 140 litres of water per day, the role water plays in our lives is staggering and often overlooked, says RICS. Water courses through everyday life and without it the UK could face serious consequences.