Flash Floods in London – Independent Review Update

Scrutiny Meeting @CityWestminster Council where Thames Water promised Independent Review of the flash floods in London but no details

 

After watching two council scrutinies on the flash floods in London, a letter from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) informs me what is happening with the Independent Review offered by Thames Water in both sessions.

Thames Water had reiterated in both scrutiny meetings that they will be commissioning an independent review which will look at the network’s performance in far more detail, to see what lessons can be learned and to identify what the most appropriate solution would be for the long term protection of local residents though the details where lacking. 

It appears the broad structure of the review is now in place and Mike Woolgar will be the chairman, the Director of WSP UK Ltd’s Water group, responsible for water strategy and technical advisory services. He will head a panel of three experts, with international experience of flood risk management, that will lead the review alongside separate consultants carrying out the work on the ground. These experts will be assisted by a group of representatives from organisations which have a stake in preventing flooding in London, including the Environment Agency, the Consumer Council for Water, London Councils, the London Drainage Engineers Group and the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. OFWAT will also be joining this group.

The review itself currently has five core objectives but these are being reviewed by the expert group which will have the final say:

  • Establish what happened during the storms of 12 and 25 July
  • Determine how well Thames Water’s network performed during those storms
  • Identify other factors, such as the time of day, which potentially contributed to the flooding
  • Recommend how Thames Water can achieve its responsibilities as a flood risk management authority and increase resilience to future extreme events
  • Identify wider implications for London’s drainage infrastructure and make recommendations to all authorities with surface water management responsibilities to increase resilience across the capital.

As part of the review, residents, local authorities and MPs will be contacted to provide information throughout the process to get their essential input. Here it would be using to have the GLA involved as well. While they don’t have any responsibilities for water in London the way councils may do, its strategic perspective across London would certainly be useful. 

Thames Water has still not commit entirely to a strict deadline for the Review as some keenly wanted to know at the Kensington Scrutiny but it is believed that it will take approximately six months to complete. It is  of course reassuring that OFWAT is also going to be closely involved in this group and is clearly wanting to see it conducted in a rigorous and timely way.

What is surprising is that Thames Water have not informed their customers yet, particularly those affected by the flash floods in July, nor those of us who complained to them about their services in response to those event. This all the more surprising given the criticism is has received about its communications which it has readily accepted could have been a lot better!