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Glasgow canal project brings new approach to managing surface water drainage

A new integrated water management system in north Glasgow promises to bring a new approach to managing surface water, as well as enabling further redevelopment projects in the city.

With sewer networks reaching full capacity across north Glasgow, fresh ideas for surface water management were needed to help facilitate future construction and development schemes as well as to reduce the risk of flooding.

The North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System (NGIWMS) is a pioneering new approach to managing surface water drainage that will make use of the existing Forth & Clyde Canal, a Scheduled Monument that is an important part of Scotland’s heritage.

Importantly, the scheme will unlock 260 ha for development and regeneration that would otherwise be limited by lack of drainage capacity, presenting numerous opportunities for the construction sector.

It means thousands of new homes and facilities can be built in the Sighthill, Cowlairs and Port Dundas areas of Glasgow, where the sewer network has been unable to cope with expansion.

Previously, there had been little room for commercial or residential opportunities in the area because of the risk of inundation or increased risk to the city centre downstream.

Effective flood mitigation can therefore be a key enabler when it comes to both development construction and regeneration.

Enabling project

The scheme will also pave the way for future developments to incorporate similar approaches to sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) by demonstrating how intelligent systems and smart technologies can be implemented.

Remote sensors will be installed to collect the data needed for real-time operational management. This technology, known as remote telemetry, is an automated communications system that allows data to be collected at remote or inaccessible areas.

“The scheme will pave the way for future developments to incorporate similar approaches to the construction of SUDS by demonstrating how intelligent systems and smart technologies can be effectively implemented”

Forecasting data and modelling will provide an early warning of extreme wet weather, with bespoke sluices allowing the canal level to be lowered by as much as 100 mm to provide 42,000 cu m of extra capacity for floodwater. These will be installed in remote locations requiring careful construction planning, particularly when the status of the canal is considered.

It is also important to monitor the quality of water within the canal itself, in surrounding watercourses and in any stormwater run-off diverted into it. Active monitoring of water quality both within the canal network and upstream, together with active treatment of surface water runoff, may be carried out to protect the canal and its environment.

Adapting and responding

The NGIWMS concept will create an adaptive and responsive system that will be resilient to climate change and provide economic regeneration and flood risk reduction for communities in north Glasgow, as well as habitat improvement for local wildlife.

It was developed by Aecom, working with Scottish Canals, Glasgow City Council and Scottish Water as the key stakeholders in the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership (MGSDP).

North glasgow integrated water management system aecom 2

North glasgow integrated water management system aecom 2

The Forth & Clyde Canal is a thriving, diverse habitat that must be handled with care.

The NGIWMS concept has adopted a range of techniques to realise the canal’s water management potential while carefully safeguarding its ecosystem.

The project has now entered the realisation stage, with construction due to start next year, allowing development connections to be made in 2018.

Completion will be co-ordinated with the development and regeneration of the north Glasgow area.

The initial phase will install the infrastructure to enable the canal to receive surface water from future developments. The first such development is set to be in the Sighthill area, with more expected to follow in the coming years.

A different approach

We saw how the existing Forth & Clyde Canal could fulfil a very important new role if transformed into a sustainable surface water drainage tool, given due consideration to its Scheduled Monument status.

When developing the project, the team evaluated both the canal-based concept and the conventional alternative.

“The project has now entered the realisation stage, with construction due to start next year, allowing development connections to be made in 2018”

A traditionally engineered approach would require the construction of a 2 km tunnel to connect the development area to existing facilities. This demonstrated that use of the existing canal infrastructure could provide very significant cost reductions compared to the alternative.

In addition, the approach adopted in managing the canal is expected to be extended into future developments, changing the nature of infrastructure construction, operation and maintenance.

This will support the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation principles of developing new approaches and technologies in water management that can help other parts of the world.

The NGIWMS is rethinking the way canals contribute to water management, while providing opportunities for future development.

It has the potential to influence future schemes, helping to unlock previously constrained land for development along Britain’s canal network.

Thinking differently about existing infrastructure and future sustainable drainage systems can provide a cheaper, more sustainable alternative to expanding existing sewerage systems.

Marc Barone is managing director – water, UK & Ireland at Aecom

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