Discussion, Barnard's Inn Hall, Wednesday, 1 May 2024 - 12:00

Water Problems in the UK

Pipe in field spewing water

The management of water supplies, flooding and water pollution in the UK is currently the subject of great controversy, and public interest has never been higher. Following a short introduction by Professor Carolyn Roberts, this focused day will include three debates in which experts will discuss contrasting views on the nature of a specific problem, and how it might be solved. Audience involvement will be encouraged through questions. The First Panel Discussion will explore water supply in the context of climate change; The Second Panel Discussion will question the threat and response to threat of flooding in the UK; The Third Panel Discussion will discuss water pollution responsibility in the UK. 

Panel 1 (12-1pm) : A Drier Future? Climate Change and the UK’s water supply
Summers are likely to become increasingly drier, as a result of Climate Change. This, in combination with a growing population, creates a greater risk of water shortages unless demand can be reduced significantly, more storage capacity constructed, or transfers around the country can be brokered. Despite of this, no major reservoirs have been built in England since the 90s. The margins for avoiding catastrophe are decreasingly small, so what should be done to address this challenge?
Speakers:
• Professor David Butler, Director of the Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter.
• James Curtis, Head of Leakage, Asset Strategy and Capital Delivery, Affinity and ANO.

Panel 2 (2.30-3.30pm): Is the UK doing enough to respond to the threat of flooding?
Water flooding in some parts of the UK has been increasing, with various causes being blamed. Many solutions are proposed, including dredging rivers, permanent or temporary barriers, or accepting the flooding and paying out through insurance. Is the UK doing enough?
Speakers:
• Professor Jim Hall, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, University of Oxford.
• Sue Illman, Landscape Architect and Winner of CIRIA Lifetime Award for outstanding services to sustainable drainage systems.
• Professor Paul Bates, Professor of Hydrology, University of Bristol.

Panel 3 (4-5pm): Britain’s water pollution, who is responsible?
Regulators and citizen science groups have suggested that pollution with sewage and agricultural effluent is widespread, and sufficiently serious to damage wildlife and human health. Rivers and beaches are visibly contaminated, and yet Water Companies claim not to be acting illegally, whilst attempts to reduce agricultural runoff seem largely unsuccessful. How might we protect this vital resource and maintain a healthy water environment in the UK?
Speakers:
• Peter Hammond, retired Professor of Computational Biology, UCL and member of Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP).
• Mr Richard Bramley, Farmer and NFU Environment Forum Chair.

Professor Carolyn Roberts

Professor Carolyn Roberts

Frank Jackson Professor of the Environment

Professor Carolyn Roberts was the first Frank Jackson Professor of the Environment at Gresham College. She is also a Senior Scientist at the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), which links business and universities in order to promote research and innovation in environmental technologies.

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