Blue Heart – Applying the Smart Stormwater Management Wheel in a Local Authority Setting: WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024 Retrospective


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Effective management of stormwater systems is necessary for protection of both the built and natural environments. However, stormwater management is facing multiple, growing challenges, including climate change, ageing infrastructure, population growth, urbanisation, environmental concerns, regulatory and institutional changes and public awareness.

The ‘smart stormwater management wheel’ provides a flexible and iterative approach for implementing smart functionality of stormwater management systems. It provides a structured methodology for overcoming barriers and benchmarking progress, and may be used to explore trade-offs and relationships between differing levels of implementation for each of the constituent technologies in a smart stormwater system.

The Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP) has funded Blue Heart to develop and trial the smart stormwater management wheel in a local authority context with multiple organisations and agencies for improved and more resilient stormwater management. Blue Heart is predominately doing this by deploying a network of sensors to create a digital twin for informing asset management, flood warnings, mitigating flood risk and real time control of water systems. The smart stormwater management wheel concept is being applied to monitor and evaluate the success of Blue Heart’s approach to stormwater management as well as provide a roadmap for its implementation.

At WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024, we were delighted to welcome Anna Hastings, Blue Heart Project Manager and Innovative Flood Resilience Project Manager at East Sussex County Council, and Dr Chris Sweetapple, Blue Heart Telemetry Expert and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems. In their co-presented keynote, Anna and Chris covered where Blue Heart has reached along this roadmap in its journey towards 2027, where FCRIP expires.

Summary of presentation highlights:

  • Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP) – Part of the Environment Agency’s £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programme (FCIP), the FCRIP receives £150 million for 25 local areas to improve resilience through innovation;
  • Blue Heart Overview:
  • Project Partners – East Sussex County Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, Wealden District Council, University of Exeter, Southern Water, Pevensey and Cuckmere Water Level Management Board, Environment Agency;
  • Why Eastbourne and southern Wealden? Creation of resilience – August 2015 flood event; 4,102 properties at risk from surface water; £152 million of potential property damages; Blue Heart, with an investment of £4,400,000, potentially avoids £17,400,000 damages – Benefit Cost Ration of 3.91;
  • Where do we want to go?
  • Improve understanding of the catchment – Address data and knowledge gaps in the catchment; Gain detailed and comprehensive understanding of how water moves around the catchment;
  • Engage with communities and stakeholders – Raise awareness of flood risk and resilience; Use local knowledge to guide research and management of the water bodies; Ensure local stakeholders are at the heart of the decision;
  • Create a dynamic network system – Install a real time telemetry and warning system that enables monitoring of water levels; Create an integrated flood risk management platform that is cross organisations; Creation of an enhanced flood warning and alert service; Install real time control devices; Disseminate learning, benefits and resilience gain from working across multiple RMAs, stakeholders and community groups locally and nationally;

  • The Smart Stormwater Management Wheel:
  • Learning and adaptation; Stormwater system assets; Asset sensing; Data collection; Data communication; Data management; Data analytics and external data integration;
  • A flexible and iterative approach for building smart functionality;
  • Illustrates that it is not necessary to know everything or have the solution to all barriers before progress can be made in the transition to smarter stormwater management;
  • Applying the Wheel:
  • Applications – Overcoming barriers to increase smart functionality; Benchmarking and progress mapping; Exploring trade-offs and relationships between different implementation levels;
  • Application in the Blue Heart Project:
  • Phase 1 – 14 sensors (7 boreholes and 7 water level), levels logged every 5 mins-1 hour, data uploaded every 1 hour-1 day, data accessed via HydroVu platform;
  • Phase 1 Challenges and Learning;
  • Phase 2: Feeding into datasphere, analytical tools provided, battery level alarms set up, external data sources integrated;
  • Phase 2 Challenges and Learning;
  • Where Next?
  • Short-medium term – Integrate Phase 1 devices in datasphere; Implement dynamic logging; Expand monitoring (rain depths, flow rates, gully levels); Refine sensor locations required; Incorporate telemetry data in a flood warning system; Explore options for control;
  • Long term – Fully smart?

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, London, for the live in-person event on April 3rd, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Chris and Anna’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, innovation, trialling and partnering leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, environmental managers, policy makers and planners from UK water companies and utilities, wastewater and sewer operators, lead local flood authorities (unitary authorities and county councils), city/borough/metropolitan councils, district councils, combined authorities, highways authorities, prime contractors, general insurers, large water consumers, central governmental and regulatory bodies (e.g. Defra, DCLG, Ofwat, Environment Agency, DWI, SEPA), independent industry and consumer organisations (e.g. Water UK, CCW) etc.

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WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how deploying the latest digital technology-enabled solutions, data-driven strategies and best practices can help manage the distribution and management of water resources, and also offers utilities an opportunity to improve efficiency and customer service whilst reducing water scarcity and supporting the drive towards a net zero future.


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