Community Water Management for a Liveable London (CAMELLIA)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering

Abstract

London and the South-East is the economic 'powerhouse' of England contributing 40% of GDP. Currently there is a shortage of housing, particularly affordable homes, and 50,000 new homes per year are planned for London to 2036. The growing population of London and its planned housing require water to be supplied and flooding to be reduced as far as possible. However, the region is vulnerable to water shortages (droughts) and floods. In the spring of 2012 London was facing potentially its worst drought, with concerns whether Affinity Water could provide sufficient water for some Olympic events. By contrast, the prolonged rainfall that then fell over the summer caused localised flooding and the Thames barrier being closed twice. This swing, over half a year, from extreme shortage of water to excess highlights the major challenge London faces to manage the water environment.

This challenge is likely to worsen with climate change alongside the expected economic growth of London and associated increase in population. It also shows how droughts and flooding are two ends of a hydrological spectrum, whose political oversight, i.e. governance, needs to be managed was a whole. It is this need for integrated, collaborative and appropriate management that lies at the heart of CAMELLIA.

Focusing on London, CAMELLIA will bring together environmental, engineering, urban planning and socio-economic experts with governmental and planning authorities, industry, developers and citizens to provide solutions that will enable required housing growth in London whilst sustainably managing water and environment in the city.

CAMELLIA will be led by Imperial College London, working in collaboration with researchers at University College London, the University of Oxford, and the British Geological Survey. The programme is supported by communities, policymakers and industry including: local and national government, environmental regulators, water companies, housing associations and developers, environmental charities and trusts. Ultimately, the programme aims to transform collaborative water management to support the provision of lower cost and better performing water infrastructure in the context of significant housing development, whilst improving people's local environments and their quality of life.

The relationships between the natural environment and urban water infrastructure are highly complex, comprised of ecological, hydrological, economic, technical, political and social elements. It is vital that policy and management are informed by the latest scientific understanding of hydrological and ecological systems. However, for this knowledge to make a change and have an impact, it needs to be positioned within wider socio-technical and economic systems. CAMELLIA will provide a systems framework to translate Natural Environmental Research Council-funded science into decision-making. Enabling a range of organisations and people to contribute to, and apply systems-thinking and co-designed tools to create a paradigm shift in integrated water management and governance underpins CAMELLIA. This will achieve the goal of real stakeholder engagement in water management decisions and provide a template, not just for London's growth, but for other cities, regions and communities both nationally and globally.

The proposed work programme consists of four work packages which address 4 key questions, namely: How to understand the system?; How to model the integrated system?; How to analyse that system?; How to apply this systems approach to create impact? To help focus these questions, four London based case studies are being used, each reflecting a key issue: Southwark (urban renewal); Thamesmead (housing development); Mogden (water infrastructure regeneration); Enfield (Flood risk and water quality). From these, an integrated systems model will be applied to the entire city in order to help guide policy, planning and water management decisions.

Planned Impact

Impact lies at the heart of CAMELLIA. This is why we are working with 20 stakeholders (CAMELLIA partners), which include Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Thames Water, Affinity Water, Transport for London, Homebuilders Federation, GLA, London Boroughs, and community groups (Thames 21; Rivers Trusts) in order to deliver significant, quantifiable impact. These organisations have agreed to work with us, as the expected growth and associated housing development with London and the Thames, can only be delivered affordably, in a sustainable manner, and without significant environmental degradation, if a truly Catchment-Based Approach (CaBA) to water management is adopted.

To deliver new housing that contributes to documented visions of a more "Liveable" London (e.g. the Mayor of London's September 2017 London Housing Strategy), CAMELLIA will provide stakeholders usable information, models and tools, and work with them to use and continue to apply them collectively, thus greatly advancing the CaBA. The impacts we expect CAMELLIA to deliver are:

(1) The tools developed within CAMELLIA to quantify the effects of infiltration management on flood risk, infrastructure performance, and water resources will, for the first time, enable the assessment of 'upstream' intervention on 'downstream' impact. This will provide the evidence that could transform sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) uptake, for example, potentially based on the collective adoption of a SuDS offsetting scheme. This would support sustainable development within the GLA's Opportunity Areas, and could unlock areas currently considered unsuitable for development because of a lack of integrated assessment.

(2) The programme will build community capacity and expertise to engage with a range of organisational and institutional stakeholders based on open and equitable access to scientific knowledge. Engagement of London's citizens in the science of water management and design of infrastructure and policy options will improve their effectiveness, compared to conventional approaches based on public education, behaviour change and outreach.

(3) By applying systems thinking, the common objectives for a truly wide range of stakeholders will be included in a structured decision process. CAMELLIA will deliver an innovative Integrated Systems Analysis, which explicitly focuses on the interactions between the physical, social, management and decision-making system that is created from multiple stakeholder perspectives and with genuine local relevance. It will allow the analysis of differences in short- and long-term effects and avoid unintended consequences.

(4) CAMELLIA will transform access to data, knowledge, models, and tools to support urban water management and decision-making. It will deliver the Community Water Management Portal, a publicly-available web-based platform that will enable stakeholders to: (i) easily find out what data and tools are available and what they can be used for; (ii) access knowledge supporting community understanding; (iii) view and interpret multi-dimensional datasets describing London's urban water system, from anywhere; (iv) use a range of hydrological models and system dynamic models, and interpret their results.

Ten Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been specified. These provide measures of the main outcomes from the programme. They enable CAMELLIA's impact with respect to user engagement and innovation, along with the benefit for society, business, the environment and policy to be quantified and costed against the consortium's baseline data.

Of the many examples cited by our partners, Peabody believe that "we can build a good case for investment around clear benefits that demonstrate value for money" and Thames Water state that "we are confident that we can collectively deliver better outcomes at lower cost". Given their annual investment in assets of £1bn, this represents huge potential savings and a long-lasting legacy.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Methods of how to undertake a co-design process for community engagement in water management has been succesfully trialled. New tools for integrated water management by under development and showing great promise.
Exploitation Route We are developing a general purpose on-line graphical water caclulator tool for use with both communities and individuals (see https://dist.bgs.now.sh/) for assessing runoff attenuation and water demand which will be made freely available.
Sectors Environment

 
Description A co-design methodology and graphical water calculator tool have been successfully used by a group of residents on a housing estate in central London to bid for funding from Southwark Council to develop a community water garden.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Title Community water calculator 
Description A graphical calculator for water runoff attenuation and water demand from a community water garden design. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This tools was successfully used as part of a community garden funding bid. 
URL https://dist.bgs.now.sh/
 
Description CAMELLIA advisory board & case studies 
Organisation Stantec
Country Canada 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Use of data and develpment of modelling techniques.
Collaborator Contribution Strategic directions for project work, these include the development of a low-cost domestic smart water tank for combining rainwater harvesting and with reduced storm runoff using low-cost sensor technology and new ways of working with stakeholders in water management decision making.
Impact Development of a prototype smart water tank for use in domestic water management. Disciplines include hardware and software developments.
Start Year 2019
 
Description New water management approaches for London 
Organisation Thames Water Utilities Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Developing models for improved water management.
Collaborator Contribution Data provision, meeting attendance & strategic direction
Impact MSc projects
Start Year 2018
 
Description Progress towards net zero water use for housing development 
Organisation Peabody Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Organising and leading stakeholder engagement meetings in order to find a collative view and shared values for the work using system dynamics workshops .
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to stakeholder forum, participation in stakeholder workshop and provision of site visits to Thamesmead, a key case study site within CAMELLIA.
Impact Improved understanding of stakeholder needs and views for the Thamesmead site.
Start Year 2018
 
Title Community water calculator 
Description A graphical calculator for water runoff attenuation and water demand from a community water garden design. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The tool was successfully used as part of a community garden funding bid. 
URL https://dist.bgs.now.sh/
 
Description CAMELLIA Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first quartely CAMELLIA newletter was published in February 2020. It included article on introduciton to aims of CAMELLIA, article on Kipling co-design project, smart water butts. Received positive feedback and interest about the article on smart water butts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://t.co/ueefiTTHRZ?amp=1
 
Description Croydon schools engagement - January 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Imperial College led an engagement day in partnership with Mott MacDonald with 3 Croydon schools on designs for flood alleviation. Students designed and built small coffer dam prototypes using lego that were tested in the Civil Engineering department's fluids lab. Teachers provided positive feedback and reported good engagement and interest in students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Evening Standard article - January 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Online article on Evening Standard (free newspaper in the London area) warning about water challenges and describing the CAMELLIA programme and objectives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-faces-severe-water-droughts-as-population-grows-profes...
 
Description Kipling co-design workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Three workshops were held between April - Sept 2019 with residents of Kipling estate. The first workshop one focussed on what the resident aims were of the co-design project e.g. to create growing opportunities and increasing biodiversity. Workshop 2 (May) focused on strategy and the third focused on the layout of garden and calculating the water impacts. Resident developed garden designs and used the bespoke calculator developed by BGS to calculate volume of water required for their design options. Residents came up with a final outline design which was used as the basis for funding applications. Two funding calls identified (GLA & LB Southwark). A residents group formed to write and submit bids with support from Leathermarket JMB, UCL and CAMELLIA project team. The residents were successful in winning £19,000 grant from greener city fund.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/engineering-exchange/research-projects/2019/may/co-designing-community-garden
 
Description Stakeholder Forum - September 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact All-day meeting with CAMELLIA stakeholders to discuss ongoing work, strategic direction, and to collect stakeholder requirements and feedback. Two new collaborations came about as a result - we are currently engaged with one of these stakeholders on a project, and exploring ways to work with the other. The meeting also led to greater awareness and interest in the programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Thamesmead systems thinking workshop - problem identification 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This workshop is intended to bring together Thamesmead key stakeholders and collaborators on the CUSSH/CAMELLIA projects to jointly scope the focus of this work in the area of green and blue spaces, housing, sustainability and health. We will discuss the most pressing problems and make decisions on the direction of our activities via a Systems Thinking problem identification workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Tweets about CAMELLIA programme and projects and re-tweet tweet that are applicable to the reserach area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://twitter.com/CamelliaWater