World water day 2022

This year’s theme for World Water Day is “Making the invisible, visible” - we all know that groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. As the climate change challenge increases, groundwater will become more and more critical. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource.

Water is essential to every aspect of our lives. But our water supply faces big challenges. Our population is growing fast, and climate change is bringing greater risk of extremes in terms of both drought and flooding. Addressing these challenges means working closely with our clients, communities, and partners to create a resilient water future.

At Fisher German we work with water companies, local authorities, and landowners, to ensure there is a lifelong plan to provide water to enhance health and wellbeing, protect and improve the environment and sustain the economy.

Water demand globally is projected to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050. Much of the demand is driven by agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global freshwater use, and food production will need to grow by 69% by 2035 to feed the growing population*

There are many changes happening with increasing emphasis on enhancing the environment around us. Biodiversity net gain is one way of delivering measurable improvements for biodiversity by creating or enhancing habitats in association with development. Biodiversity net gain can be achieved on-site, off-site or through a combination of on-site and off-site measures.

The Green Offset is particularly relevant for water utility companies as, like developers and many farm businesses, they will be required to demonstrate biodiversity net gain on any of their assets which require planning permission following the introduction of The Environment Act in 2021. Our innovative platform connects those requiring land for a wide variety of environmental improvement reasons with landowners who are willing to provide acreage that will sustain new habitats or host renewable energy sources.

Sarah De-Renzy Tomson who leads our Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Planning team said: “In the period 2020-2025, we know that many water companies have a biodiversity enhancement performance measure across most of their capital programme schemes. The water industry is looking at improving on the statutory minimum requirements and have set targets of between 10 and 15 per cent biodiversity net gain. Project teams are exploring options and delivery mechanisms to achieve the targets to ensure that habitats are enhanced once schemes are complete.”

Water companies are positively acting upon the water regulator, Ofwat, introduction of targets for them to make improvement of the environment a core part of their business, to deliver sustainable, resilient water supplies. To meet or exceed biodiversity net gain targets water companies will potentially need to source land and farmers are in an ideal position to supply this land. Many are already working together on river catchment improvement schemes.

In recent years, we’ve partnered with Severn Trent and contractors Mott MacDonald Bentley to deliver a reservoir upgrading project at Diamond Avenue in Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottingham. Here, Severn Trent invested £5m to build a new service reservoir to replace the existing, but ageing, reservoir cells in the same area.

The project involved the extension of the boundaries of the existing operational Diamond Avenue District Service Reservoir (DSR) site and the change of use of an area of agricultural land immediately adjoining the site. A new 15 Megalitre Reservoir was then installed alongside associated works including an extension to the existing site access road, new valve houses, crane pads, security fencing, ground reprofiling and landscaping works.

The new reservoir, which is now complete can store around 13 million litres of treated water and ensures supplies are much more resilient for over 30,000 customers. It was designed to integrate into the adjoining landscape to ensure there was a minimal impact on the surrounding community.

Antonia Wyatt, a planner in our Infrastructure Planning team based at Ashby said: “We know that water quality is one of the most important factors in ensuring healthy ecosystems. Clean water is important for healthy communities. The provision of this new 15ML reservoir will help to ensure that Severn Trent continue to be able to provide a secure supply of high-quality drinking water to this catchment in Nottinghamshire for the future, taking into consideration the forecasted growth in the area up to 2035.”

As well as managing development opportunities and disposal projects, we also manage land and property portfolios for large water companies. To find out more about the services we provide click here.

*data source: Research from the World Resources Institute (WRI))