Benyon to Chair UK Water Partnership

Critical water challenges facing London

Alex Nickson, Greater London Authority, speaks about the critical water challenges to London. Recorded on 30 June 2015 at Water in Future Cities – RCUK Water Showcase 2015, The Crystal, London Plenary presentation by Alex Nickson, Greater London Authority.

Business and Economy

tapping_the_potential_report_coverAn UKWRIP task force led by Mark Lane of Pinsent Masons produced the report Tapping the Potential: a fresh view of UK water technology. This led to the development of the UK Water Partnership, launched in February 2015.


A task force led by Tony Rachwal (independent, ex Thames Water) with Hans Jensen of UKWIR ran a workshop on infrastructure water needs. The report is available here: Water Infrastructure Innovation Workshop May 2012 Final Report (pdf)

The task force identified key areas for research and innovation – some of which are being addressed in EPSRC’s Assessing the Underworld programme and others through UKWIR/water utilities reviews and trials to manage water demand through smart metering and water reuse. A further workshop was run on Aquifer Storage and Recharge – see report here: Radical groundwater recharge workshop 4th Dec 2013 DRAFT REPORT (pdf)

This subject is being further explored both by the water and cities and water and farming task forces.

Domestic Water Use

A task force led by Jacob Tomkins of Waterwise led to a workshop and report on domestic water use. The aim of this ‘House of the Future’ project was to examine the social, financial and cultural barriers to the uptake of water efficient technology in homes. The workshop report is available here.

International Conference

A task force has been set up led by Mark Smith of WRc to plan an international water conference in 2017. This activity is being led by members of the Commercialisation and Economic Growth delivery group.

Facilities and Capabilities

At present there is no single portal bringing together water expertise and capability across the private and public sector focused on global market needs. The UK Water Partnership would ultimately like to provide this, so that expertise and capabilities can be easily searched under the UK Trade and Investment categories.

A cross-stakeholder task force led by Peter Drake of UK Water Industry Forum has been developing a specification for a capability directory and leading discussions with trade associations and others.

WRc has developed a pilot register of demonstration sites and testing facilities funded by NERC. This will be developed further in association with the Scottish Government

Farming and Water: Facing the Future Together

Water and Farming

In a world where there is increasing demand for food and water, and environmental change is impacting on weather and the availability of land and water, there are significant and intensifying challenges for both the agri-food and water sectors. These include:

  1. Agriculture’s impacts on water quality – Agriculture is one of the main sources of pollution (particularly nitrates and phosphorous) of water bodies. Is it possible to balance high aspirations for environmental water quality with significant growth in agricultural production to meet food security objectives and provide viable livelihoods for farmers?
  2. Water availability and efficiency in agriculture –in the UK the pressure on water supply is increasing due to expanding population and climate change, and extreme floods and droughts events are increasing too. There are challenges around i) competing users of water (agriculture, industry, domestic) ii) water efficiency especially in times of scarcity, iii) catchment management to enable coping with too little and too much water; adaptation and trade-offs in response to extreme events.
  3. Water use in our food imports – what are the risks in our supply chains and how can we best assess and manage them alongside possible risks producers may face overseas?

The Director of the Global Food Security programme, Professor Tim Benton, led a multi-stakeholder task force looking at different aspects of water and farming, covering its impact on water quality, water availability and water in imported food. See reports here.

These reports made a number of recommendations which the partnership is currently reviewing and planning how to implement, led by members of the Research and Innovation delivery group.

The Sustainable Food, Farming and Water workshop will explore new ways of working across sustainable food, farming and water; to showcase good practice with selected case studies, and to identify remaining barriers to action and how to overcome these.

Droughts and Floods: Towards a More Holistic Approach

Releasing the Full Value of UK Research

A report commissioned by the UK Water Partnership Research and Innovation Group

(Formerly the UK Water Research and Innovation Partnership)

July 2015


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