Leveraging Digital Innovation to Empower Communities in Urban Rainwater Management: WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024 Retrospective


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Our climate is changing, and the need for innovative solutions to address environmental challenges is becoming increasingly evident. At WATER MANAGEMENT Smart Class 2024, Our Rainwater’s Co-Founder & COO, Dr Sarah Bunney, explored the transformative potential of digital innovation in urban rainwater management. As industry innovators, Our Rainwater leverages digital solutions to empower householders in capturing and storing rainwater, facilitating its gradual release into the drainage system with the intention of reducing surface water flooding and sewer spills into our waterways.

Sarah’s presentation shared valuable insights on harnessing digital technology, and adopting a data-driven approach, to transform rainwater management practices. By applying advanced analytics, actionable customer insights that inform community-centric rainwater management strategies can be identified. Additionally, Sarah explained how digital tools enable the validation of the effectiveness of stormwater management initiatives, ensuring measurable impact and regulatory compliance.

Her discussion spotlighted the pivotal role of digital innovation in facilitating meaningful connections with local authorities, communities, and key stakeholders. Through collaborative partnerships, Sarah showcased how technology acts as a bridge between water companies and communities, fostering engagement and empowerment.

During subsequent hosted roundtable sessions, Sarah delved deeper into the intersection between innovation, technology, and environmental stewardship, uncovering how digital solutions are reshaping the future of urban rainwater management for resilience and sustainability.

Presentation highlights:

  • Our climate is changing – Met Office UK annual temperature/5 coolest years and 5 warmest years since 1884; ‘There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year’ (World Meteorological Organisation, 2023);
  • Increasing drought resilience in England – The Environment Agency and National Group members continue to take action to reduce risks, improve water supplies and protect the environment; Government response on surface water flooding risk “does not meet scale of challenge” (National Infrastructure Commission); Outrage over record discharges of sewage into rivers and seas;
  • Imagine a world where every raindrop is a precious resource – Collaboration with Blue Heart and Eastbourne’s ‘Slow the Flow’ Water Butt Project; Community-Centric Rainwater Management in the London Borough of Lambeth – Installation of Thames Water rain planters in homeowner properties; Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme’s (FCRIP) Catchment to Coast – Supporting communities to build flood and coastal resilience from source to sea;
  • Research and perspectives on multi-benefit water reuse systems: A confluence of water and wastewater management planning –  “…there is more that everyone could do to alleviate the pressure on the drainage system…” (UK Water Company); 200% increase paving front gardens (RHS); “…people don’t know what they need to do…” (UK Water Company); “…or where to go for support” (Communities prepared); “…most people don’t think about where that water is going…It is out of sight out of mind, they don’t understand the connection or the value”;

  • What one change in the industry would make the biggest difference – bearing in mind the ‘perfect storm’ of ageing infrastructure, climate change and the cost-of-living crisis? Technology, data, centralisation of data, attitude, desire, regulatory reform, culture, risk taking etc;
  • A strategic approach…engagement and empowerment – Working together to create change; A free more sustainable source of water; Streamlining rainwater management;
  • Embracing digital solutions…leveraging data-driven approaches – “Rainwater Management is KEY to achieving a reduction in sewer discharges from storm overflows, reducing flood risk and improving water scarcity to ensure a healthy environment” (Defra, 2021); “…we are unable to quantify the effect…” (UK Water Company);
  • The role of digital tech and advanced analytics to gain actionable customer insights – Working together in partnership with communities and stakeholders in target locations to encourage the capture and storage of rainwater e.g. Thames Water Rain planter scheme in Cirencester;
  • Empowering change through digital innovation – “Digital solutions are not just tools but enablers propelling us towards a more sustainable and resilient future” (Sarah Bunney)

If you satisfy our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us in London on April 3rd for the live in-person event at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, 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 Sarah’s initial presentation).

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.


   London, UK

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