08Jul 2024

A blueprint for community rainwater management

The Towards Incentivisation for Community Centric Rainwater Management lead by Thames Water in partnership with Anglian Water, South West Water, our Rainwater, Indepen, and Isle Utilities, was initiated through Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge, an innovation competition which awards funding to projects that will provide innovative water company-led solutions that will bring benefits to water customers, society and the environment.


The project sought to explore ways of encouraging residential communities to adopt rainwater capture tools and solutions, to help ‘slow the flow’ of rainwater entering sewers. When it rains heavily, excess water runs off roofs and driveways, and drains into the sewers causing sewers and sewage treatment works to become overwhelmed resulting in flooding, pollutions and storm overflows. However, a single rainwater capture device such as a water butt will have little effect on slowing the large volumes of water generated when it rains.


To be effective, rainwater capture must be deployed at scale, installing hundreds and even thousands of devices to create enough ‘distributed storage’ across a neighbourhood. Distributed storage of rainwater offers many benefits, but deployment at scale within target communities has been a major challenge. 


Rainwater capture devices require a small amount of space within the curtilage of domestic and commercial properties, therefore engagement with every property owner is required. Engaging with the wider community to build support with property owners and residents alike to adopt rainwater capture devices on their properties is effective, even if they don’t see a direct personal benefit to them.


This document is the first iteration of a blueprint for how to implement a catchment-scale rainwater management solution.

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