BG VISION FOR LONDON (and barriers to adopting a BG solution)

A vision of a Water Sensitive City has been generated for Melbourne - see video link here. There is no legitimate reason why, using current technologies, this could not be London.

An integrated BG strategy is not fiction but there is now irrefutable evidence that it has now been and is being adopted by many cities and regions around the world. Some other examples are:

A European research network has been established to coordinate development of blue-green technologies and methodologies (see Blue-Green Dream and the BGD Project at Imperial College). This is one example of an active research community that can help support the development of BG solutions for London over and above the methods currently being employed elsewhere in the world.

Thames Water's proposed "super sewer" tunnel (Thames Tideway Tunnel - the "Tunnel") would take money away from blue-green growth opportunities in London. A major step change is required in our approach to the adoption of blue-green technologies and methodologies in order to maximise the benefits to Londoners and eventually obviate the need for the Tunnel - discussed further in this paper. We believe that the storage delivered by the Tunnel will eventually be replaced by local storage and stormwater attenuation systems (to be proven by appropriate study). Another source of information can be found here - Expert Opinion on Clean Thames Now and Always website. Furthermore, recent evidence on this website based upon data received through a Freedom of Information request indicate that the Tunnel is not needed at all (IND14).

There are many strong views on both sides of the argument which need to be fully tested based on the evidence provided. This evidence needs to be comprehensive and open to scrutiny AND up to date. Little additional evidence to support the chosen tunnel solution has been provided since the 2005 Babtie report which requested additional work on alternatives which was not done. OFWAT originally agreed with the need for additional study - see letter to DEFRA. Currently the Thames Water propaganda machine is pitted against non-funded campaign groups who have a vision of a much better London much of what will be captured in a Blue Green movement. There is a right to reply based upon high guiding Principles [SEE04].

Thames Water need to make a good case to support their scheme and through lobbying of government agencies (EA, DEFRA, OFWAT), influencing public perceptions and heavily influencing the wider industry their strategy has been very successful to date even though failure of a system that you're responsible for seems to have been lost on some.

Where is the evidence?:

In addition to the above evidential based omissions and requirements for revision, the BGIET believe that the Thames Water pre-application consultation process is seriously flawed in the following areas:

Ultimately, we believe, the linear approach to resolving issues needs to be replaced with a holistic approach utilizing symbiosis of its components parts.  This approach would potentially maximize resilience and efficient use of resources (water, energy and finance) as part of a truly sustainable long-term flexible solution with an ability to adapt to changes in climate and the political/commercial landscape. “"Economic growth and sustainability are inter-dependent, you cannot have one without the other, and greening investment is the pre-requisite to realizing both goals." – see report from Davos

The work to support an alternative BG strategy has not been done.  The author of the study on SUDS for Putney used by Thames Water to support the tunnel approach, Professor Richard Ashley, is now a member of our BGIET.  He presented at a House of Lords committee meeting in December 2012 how this SUDS study was very limited in time and budget and heavily controlled by Thames Water in terms of inputs through to interpretations (many of which were incorrect in the Thames Water Needs Report, key section Appendix E).  SUDS is also only one component of an integrated BG strategy.  He summarized:

The Thames Tideway Tunnel is not projected to be completed until at least 2023.  It is common ground that time and funding projections of such projects are severely inadequate. A BG strategy is essentially low tech but is backed up by modelling analysis and proven evidence in the above and many more case studies.  The relative risks of each approach needs airing as part of a comprehensive study.

The provision of adequate foul water (non-storm water) storage infrastructure is the responsibility of Thames Water.  It is understood that the current system is close to capacity.  It is not understood how much of the current requirements for the system are related to leakage and ground water pumping or how much of this capacity shortage will be relieved due to water demand conservation measures and new technologies in the coming years.  There are also many other factors influencing system performance. The tolerances of each component that impact the system performance can and should be modelled to guide the policy and decision making processes for current and future designs [MOD01]. Tolerances of the models need to be linked to their interpretations, e.g. water quality is notoriously difficult to predict.

The BGIET propose that, with the above arguments, the current Thames Tideway Tunnel scheme will be shown to be a poor solution for Londoners and our global technical reputation if BG solutions are not appropriately considered as part of the whole package. It is not the responsibility of Londoners to produce Best Technical Knowledge alternatives to the Tunnel but is an omission in the Thames Water pre-application consultation process not to have equally set the Tunnel in the context of its alternatives for Londoners to make an informed choice.