Connect with Peter
Peter Bide is chair of the Catchment Based Approach Urban Water Group (CUWG).
In the run up to the globe's most important meeting on climate
change, the #CIWEMtalksCOP26 series asks thought leaders from the water
and environmental industry and beyond to answer a common question: what
do you most want COP26 to deliver?
Here we'll be serialising their answers.
Peter Bide is Chair of the Catchment-Based Approach Urban Water Group (CUWG). His early career was spent as a geologist in the British Geological Survey. He then moved to central Government as a policy advisor, first on minerals supply then from the early 2000s on planning policy for flooding, coastal erosion, water and the natural environment. Since 2011 he has worked as a private consultatant on water planning issues with a focus on integrated water management.
"What I want COP26 to deliver is more joined up thinking on water management, specifically joining up surface water management, water supply and wastewater treatment. Climate change is altering rainfall patterns, with intense rainfall causing surface water flooding whilst lack of consistent rainfall, often in the same areas, is causing water shortages.
"The carbon footprint of water treatment and supply/disposal is large. This is due to the high energy cost of moving water and also to the carbon footprint of the large amounts of chemicals used in water treatment. We urgently need to reduce the impacts of climate change on surface water flooding, and reduce water use and increase water recycling to cut the carbon footprint of water supply and wastewater treatment. This requires a joined-up integrated water management approach.
"If we can manage surface water so that, at the same time as reducing flood risk, we capture and store it for non-potable domestic and industrial use at the site and building level, we can reduce the volume of fresh water that needs to be moved over distance and, consequently, the amount of chemicals needed to treat it. If we also re-use grey water for non-potable applications we can reduce the volume of waste water that needs to be transported and treated remotely.
"To achieve this, policy-makers at both national and local level must think more strategically, breaking down siloed organisational structures and thinking. They must ensure that policies for managing flood risk, providing green and blue space, enhancing biodiversity, and providing and treating water work together to achieve integrated water management.
"We must also continue to educate consumers about the benefits of reducing water use and re-using water so they support, and demand integrated water management solutions to address climate change and reduce its impacts."
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