Skip navigation
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.

In the wake of the recent flood chaos in large parts of the UK,Professor David Balmforth, Technical Director of MWH []and one of Europe's leading experts in flooding and wastewater management says we need to quickly adopt better ways of managing urban flooding. In particular he is calling on the Government to take a stronger lead in promoting a more integrated approach. "If we do not grasp the opportunities for change now, then the scenes of devastation of the last couple of weeks will become a regular occurrence," says Balmforth.

He references evidence from major flood events which show that drainage systems and watercourses are overwhelmed early in extreme storm events. This means that the major proportion of flood flow, around 80%, is conveyed on the surface - causing indiscriminate flooding of homes and businesses.

"Surface flooding is simply not being managed effectively. Engineers know that more can be done to manage flood water at source by containing it before it even enters drainage systems. Also, by better design and layout of the urban area, flood flows can be actively managed during extreme events to avoid much of the flooding we currently see. But this requires significant change to our current management strategies. We will have to design urban roads and pathways to act as flood channels and use open space and car parks for temporary flood storage. It may also mean that some parts of our urban areas may have to be sacrificed to flood water during extreme storms. Such areas would no longer be used for high value purposes such as homes.," says Balmforth.

He believes that effective flood management is being hampered because no single agency is responsible for surface water management. Therefore he feels that the Government should take a stronger lead in promoting a more integrated approach to managing urban flooding.

He concludes; "Such radical approaches will need careful management with the public. In the future, we will all have to learn to accept regular flooding of parts of our urban areas and using the roads and pathways as flood channels for the more extreme events as a fact of life. Current research into the effects of climate change show that extreme flood events are likely to occur far more frequently in the future. So we have to act now if we are to avoid regular repeats of the damage and destruction caused by the flooding of the last couple of weeks."

- ENDS -

(Photo Attachment features David Balmforth)
For further information please contact: Lorna Campbell 07836 625 999 or Jo Smith for MWH on 01869 353800, or or

Professor David Balmforth, Technical Director, MWH. His role involves advising municipalities on how they can tackle the increased risk of flooding and pollution arising from climate change yet avoid large infrastructure solutions that might adversely affect their carbon footprint.

In Europe, he is responsible for the technical development and design standards in the areas of urban flood control, wastewater solutions, and flood risk management. Much of his recent work has been aimed at getting the wide range of stakeholders responsible for flood protection in the UK to work together to produce integrated and effective solutions. He is passionate about getting back to basic principles. His work has demonstrated that climate change is set to make urban flooding far more severe and far more frequent, and the traditional solutions of building larger and larger pipes becomes completely unsustainable in the long term.

Formerly an academic, David has an international reputation for his research into urban drainage, flooding and pollution control and has over 50 journal and conference publications to his name. Currently he is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London as well as Editor-in-Chief of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management's new International Journal on Flood Risk Management.

His recent work includes the technical direction of wastewater solutions on major programmes for Southern Water, Thames Water, Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water and United Utilities He has contributed to the UKWIR research programme on Climate Change and the Performance of Sewerage Systems and the Office of Science and Technology's Foresight project on Climate Change, Flooding and Coastal Defence and he recently completed the Integrated Urban Drainage Pilot Studies Scoping Report for Defra

David is also a Director of the Construction Industry Research and Information Association, a member of the editorial panel of the ICE Water Management Journal and chair of the ICE Yorkshire and Humber Region.

About MWH:

MWH is a global leader in water and environmental engineering. With a staff of 6,000 worldwide, it provides industry-leading, knowledge-driven services to government agencies, utility companies and multinational organisations in more than 36 countries. It is one of the world’s foremost experts on power, water and wastewater issues. MWH has worked in the UK for 160 years and has designed, built and managed many of the largest, most innovative and technologically advanced projects around the world. or

Lorna Campbell
Razor Public Relations
T: 00 44 1869 353 800
M: 00 44 7836 625 999

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Razor Public Relations Limited in the following categories: Environment & Nature, Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, Construction & Property, for more information visit