This sector is subject to various potential climate change impacts that could have a range of effects, including on water levels, water quality and risk to infrastructure. Changing groundwater and aquifer levels, as well as aquifer capacity and vulnerability to pollutants, are some areas of interest. Furthermore, there will be ongoing alignment of the sector to Government guidance and legislation such as Defra’s 25-year plan to reform groundwater abstraction practices and the 2017 Water Framework Directive regulations (England and Wales).
Changes in surface erosion related to changing precipitation and temperature patterns and the potential impact on water quality poses another hazard of interest. Coastal inundation and saline contamination of the fresh water supply is also a concern. This sector has considerable infrastructure networks, both buried and on the surface, to consider as well.
Our engagement with various water companies and stakeholders has highlighted river erosion, coastal erosion, landslides and ground movement as geohazards of concern to their water and sewage assets. All these geohazards are related to environmental processes that have the potential to be affected by changes in both longer-term climate and extreme event occurrence, such as extreme precipitation causing river and surface-water flooding. In addition to the datasets that BGS can already provide, we are keen to collaborate with stakeholders in this sector to ensure we can develop and provide the most useful information possible to assist in decision making.