The Rivers and Coastal Group introduces their committee

The CIWEM Rivers and Coastal Group (RCG) supports CIWEM in their aim to be the leading professional body for sustainable management of the rivers and coastal environment. Meet some of the committee and find out what drives their passion for rivers and coasts.

The Rivers and Coastal Group provides a space for professionals to influence policies, share knowledge and improve management of the physical, environmental, and social elements of rivers and the coast. The group has over 1500 members globally and the committee is run by 17 members with diverse backgrounds in the rivers and coastal sector.


Mott MacDonald associate geomorphologist Joanne Barlow MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv CSci

My specialist area is…

Flood risk, river restoration and infrastructure. Over 20 years my career has evolved from the river habitat survey team at the Environment Agency, to working as a fluvial geomorphologist in environmental and engineering consultancy.

Early in my career I worked with Dr Andrew Brookes who was one of the first ‘applied’ river geomorphologists working in the UK sector. The arrival of the (originally EU) Water Framework Directive in the mid-2000s really led to the growth of applied river geomorphology and sustainable management of river catchments.

I joined CIWEM’s North West and North Wales Branch and now the RCG, which I chair. I’m particularly keen on inspiring and supporting young people to see the value in a career in the sector, and to show the vital relevance of rivers and the coast to the ecological and climate emergencies.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

I always enjoyed Geography as a topic whilst studying where I followed pathways in river and coastal forms, dynamics and management. I was inspired by Professor Colin Thorne’s lectures who worked on major rivers in the US and Bangladesh which undergo huge geomorphological change.

Our UK rivers are less dynamic than the Mississippi or Brahmaputra, but there’s still many occasions where understanding the behaviour of rivers and coasts can help us to better manage risks and consequences of interventions. There’s a risk we take these environments for granted when they play a huge role in our lives.

I always feel better after time spent by a river or at the coast and enjoy an occasional wild swimming adventure.

Immediate past chair

Environment Agency programme manager Toby Willis CEng CEnv MCIWEM C.WEM

My specialist area is…

Delivering flood risk management and environmental programmes and projects. I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer from the age of 15 and found rivers and coastal after my hydrology masters.

After graduating, I gained experience with engineering consultancies in sewerage, and rivers and coasts. I then joined the Environment Agency, 15 years ago, and lead a team developing the delivery programme for the Thames Estuary from 2025-2040.

I’m also an area duty manager, providing strategic leadership during a flood or environmental incident response. It’s a great opportunity to step outside of my role and make a huge and immediate difference to people’s lives. It can be quite pressured but that’s part of the fun.

I’ve been a member of the RCG committee for many years and chaired the group last year – I’m in my final year.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

I’ve found a role where I can genuinely make a positive difference for people and the environment. I get to meet communities that have been transformed by my work. That makes me really proud.


Milestone environmental director David Mould MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv

My specialist area is…

Wetlands and their interaction with hydroecology, as a hydrologist. Since starting my company Milestone, I’ve developed many other business skills such as marketing, financial management, project management and, something I enjoy most, bringing together the different disciplines that we offer.

I studied BSc Geography, and after working as a hydrometrist at UKCEH for a year, completed a PhD in Wetland Hydrology. I love working with and observing water, understanding how the landscape functions. I’ve also been inspired by time spent outside and from reading Aldo Leopold.

I worked in consultancy (flood modelling and hydropower) and then for the Canal & River Trust for ten years. I now enjoy the flexibility of running a small company. I’ve been an RCG committee member for several years and will chair next year. It’s great fun and we enjoy not just the pub visits after meetings but organising CPD events, supporting new members and promoting hydrology.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

The challenge of working out how water is functioning in the landscape, and how to make it work for habitats in wetland environments. Even better where there is an industrial legacy, heritage value or other varied complications that make the puzzle interesting.

I love being part of a multi-disciplinary team and finding creative solutions. When I’m not working, you’ll find me out on my bike in the hills, on a boat on the Thames, or watching my boys rowing. I’m involved in Scouting and love providing inclusive opportunities for kids to learn about being practical outdoors.

Junior vice-chair

Atkins flood-risk associate Peter O’Flaherty

My specialist area is…

Flood risk assessment, primarily through hydraulic modelling of watercourses. I’ve been in the UK flood risk industry for ten years. It’s changed so much since I started.

When I studied my Geological and Environmental Hazards masters, I was exposed to volcanology and seismology too. But it was flood risk that really captured my attention and imagination. Flood risk is a very prominent part of life in the UK and a particularly devastating flood in Tewkesbury captured my attention in the lead-up to my studies.

That inspired me to dedicate my career to understanding flood risk, particularly on rivers. I found my home in CIWEM shortly after starting in the industry and particularly the RCG. This is my fourth year on the committee. As junior vice-chair I have a particular focus on communications and am leading our strategy to seek better two-way engagement with our members, to share knowledge across our network.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

Wanting to better protect people from flooding and to safeguard these wonderful assets for generations to come. The UK is an island nation, many of our major settlements stand on rivers and the coast, which is fundamental to our heritage.

I enjoy playing a part in enhancing the UK’s rivers and coasts. When I’m not working, you’ll find me kayaking down the rivers of London and Kent.

Honorary secretary

Lloyds Banking Group senior flood risk analyst Hannah Lewis (nee Cooper)

My specialist area is…

Flood risk assessment and interpretation of flood catastrophe models for insurance purposes. I’ve been working in flood risk for six years, the majority of that time as a hydraulic modeller supporting the Environment Agency and Lead Local Flood Authorities to map their flood risk.

I’ve recently moved into flood risk insurance and work for the largest UK home insurer. My focus still relies on understanding flooding mechanisms and risk, but on a regional scale. I help Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) to understand their wider view of flood risk and how this risk should be seeded to FloodRe. I support our flood claims teams during flood events to ensure staff are available to assist customers when flooding occurs, explaining where and when a flood event will affect a community.

I joined CIWEM early in my career by attending a RCG study weekend in Cumbria. After networking with the team, I found myself organising the following study weekend. My highlight was organising a study weekend to the Netherlands. We visited Maeslantkering, the largest movable storm surge barrier. As committee secretary, my role is to support event planning and study days.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

Wanting to protect rivers and coasts for future generations. Having recently obtained my Advanced Open Water PADI scuba diving certification, I’m keen to explore more coastal environments, observing the wildlife that lives there. I’m also passionate about ensuring everyone has a right to flooding protection, in the form of flood defences or through affordable home insurance.


Waterco Ltd flood risk and drainage director Mike Wellington

My specialist area is…

Flood Risk Management working as a Civil Engineer promoting schemes from inception to commissioning. I take projects through the funding and business case procedure to design and construction on site in both fluvial and coastal environments.

I address risk management in project delivery including CDM compliance and commercially through project governance and contract management. I’ve worked in the industry for 35 years, starting my career in local government working on flooding, private drainage, public sewerage systems, land drainage and flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM).

In 2000, I witnessed first-hand flooding in North Wales and the devastation it caused to communities. I now worked in the private sector delivering FCERM projects for local authorities and flood risk assessments and mitigation for developer clients.

I’m also a member of the Welsh Government Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee, since 2019.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

Living on the North Wales coast and witnessing tidal storms from the Irish Sea in the winter months compared with the tranquillity of the coastal environment in the summer months.

I’m passionate about promoting the sector to the next generation. I deliver STEM activities in schools and am a visiting lecturer in local universities.

I enjoy coastal walks witnessing wildlife such as terns, cormorants, oystercatchers and sand lizards that inhabit the dunes, estuarine and coastal waters where the river Clwyd meets the Irish sea.

Ordinary committee member

Binnies regional delivery manager Alex Humphreys

My specialist area is…

River engineering. I’ve been working in the sector for over 20 years and have developed a specialism in fish passes, weir removals, river restoration, WFD-related projects and scour risk management.

What drives my passion for rivers and coasts is…

My interest in hydraulic engineering which was a key part of my Civil Engineering studies.

My first projects as a graduate engineer were designing fish passes for the Environment Agency. This was an excellent opportunity to get stuck into hydraulic analysis. I learnt so much about the application of hydraulic design principles, solving challenges that river environments often present to those working in it.

The work on fish passes led to weir removals, and then to broader river restoration and WFD-driven projects that required much more of a balance of traditional engineering and emerging nature-based solutions.

It is this blend of engineering and working with natural processes that drew me to get involved with CIWEM. I’m looking forward to being part of the RCG, sharing knowledge and experience to help address the current challenges we face to save our rivers.

You can join the RCG at:

The RCG LinkedIn group is where we share industry news and thought-provoking pieces.

Or come and say hi to us at the Flood & Coast conference in June.

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