Making plans together for Sustainable Urban Water Management: Insights from 'See Water Differently'

min read time
2024-05-02 10:25:26

Picture1-4It's been two weeks since the first 'See Water Differently' event took place in London from the stunning vantage point of The Sky Garden. As the echoes of insightful discussions linger, we reflect on the conversation of top industry experts from the building and infrastructure sector, uniting to confront the common challenges posed by water and explore collaborative solutions.

At the heart of our deliberations was the pressing need to retrofit Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in dense urban areas. Our panel of experts delved into the intricacies of this endeavour, dissecting the challenges posed by regulatory requirements and examining how they align—or sometimes diverge—from the noble ideals of green solutions. Amidst these complexities, a beacon of hope emerged: the realisation that by working together, we can overcome barriers and unlock the potential of sustainable urban water management.


Central to our discussions was the role of engineered systems in supporting the blue/green ideology a holistic approach that harmonises traditional infrastructure with nature-based solutions. Among the myriad of innovations, recycled plastic remained its consistent presence, offering longevity and functionality while championing sustainability. Engineered systems not only address the quantitative aspects of water management but also provide a vital foundation for green interventions to thrive, nurturing water quality and biodiversity in urban landscapes.

As we distilled the insights from our discussions, three key takeaways emerged:

  1. Interest Abounds, Yet Knowledge Lags: It became evident that stakeholders across sectors share a keen interest in embracing sustainable water management practices. However, a significant gap exists in translating this interest into actionable strategies. Education and knowledge dissemination are paramount in empowering stakeholders to navigate the complexities of SuDS implementation.
  2. Collaboration is Key: In confronting the multifaceted challenges of urban water management, collaboration emerges as a linchpin for success. By forging partnerships that transcend traditional boundaries, we can leverage collective expertise and resources to drive meaningful change. Together, we can achieve far more than the sum of our individual efforts.
  3. Grey Enables Green: The symbiotic relationship between grey infrastructure and green solutions underscores the importance of integrating engineered systems with nature-based approaches. Grey infrastructure serves as a catalyst, enabling the proliferation of green interventions and fostering resilience in urban landscapes.

Building on the momentum generated by 'See Water Differently,' we are embarking on a journey to translate insights into action. We are proud to announce the creation of a white paper that distils the findings from our event—a roadmap for navigating the complexities of SuDS implementation. Additionally, in partnership with CIWEM, the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, we are developing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme focused on the role of grey infrastructure in blue/green ideologies for SuDS. Furthermore, we are collaborating with CIWEM's early careers networks to cultivate plans of action based on the solutions discussed by our panel.

As we look to the future, we are filled with optimism and anticipation. 'See Water Differently' was just the beginning—a catalyst for collective action and transformative change in urban water management. Together, let us continue to chart a course towards a more sustainable and resilient future. Stay tuned to our InSpec newsletter below for more updates as we embark on this journey together.

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