Working with partners
We cannot deliver high-quality drainage and wastewater plans by ourselves. We need to engage with other organisations to obtain data and information to understand the wider issues and risks associated with drainage, water quality and the environment.
After 150 years of developing public sewers and drains, the landscape of ownership around sewers, highway drainage and flood protection infrastructure is complex – with different and sometimes overlapping responsibilities, standards and accountabilities. Understandably, customers are often confused about who is responsible for flooding and pollution.
The Floods and Water Management Act 2010 sought to clarify responsibilities and encourage greater co-operation and collaboration between organisations with flood and drainage responsibilities, known as Risk Management Authorities (RMAs).
Under the Act, we have a duty to co-operate with other RMAs – including the Environment Agency, local councils, highway authorities – during drainage and wastewater planning. However, our sector has often been criticised for working in silos. We see the DWMPs as an opportunity collaborate with our RMAs to clarify our individual and joint responsibilities and achieve better outcomes for our customers, stakeholders and the environment.
We’ll need to work with a diverse range of partners such as:
- Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs)
- the Environment Agency (EA)
- Highway Authorities
- Internal Drainage Boards
- Catchment Partnerships
- Natural England
- The Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee
Our approach to working with others
We know how important consultation and engagement are towards achieving a plan that will be understood and supported by our customers and partners. To achieve this, we’ll adopting the Environment Agency’s 'Working with others' approach to promote collaboration, information sharing and partnership working.
We are working with risk management authorities and other partners across the South East and are bringing together organisations interested in water quality with those focused on flooding, drought and pollution.
We are engaging with senior managers, planners, developers and technical specialists from these organisations so we can co-imagine, co-create and co-deliver our plans. Together, we’ll develop an innovative and strategic mix of solutions to meet current and future needs which offer best value for money over the long term and support the Government’s 25-year environment plan by considering the wider costs and benefits to the economy, society and the environment.
Our communication will include meetings, workshops and discussions at key stages of planning, as well as establishing an online portal and web applications to share programme information, data and mapping.
In August 2020, we hosted an initial workshop series to provide all stakeholders and partner organisations with the background to DWMPs, why we are doing them and what we must achieve through the programme. The presentation used in the webinar is below.
Webinar Presentation – September 2020
In September 2020, we hosted a workshop in each of our 11 River Basin Catchments to discuss the findings of the Risk Based Catchment Screening (RBCS), the high level assessment of the wastewater infrastructure in that catchment to determine which needed a more detailed investigation and to understand what planning objectives our partners would like to see applied in the catchment. The presentations used at each river basin catchment workshop are specific to that catchment and are posted within the ‘Working with others’ page of the individual river basin catchment subsections of the main DWMP site.
We held a second webinar series in December 2020 and January 2021 to update our partner organisations on our findings from the second stage of the DWMP, the Baseline Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (BRAVA). The presentation used in the webinar is below.
Webinar Presentation – Winter 2020–21
Approaching the three planning levels
Here’s how we’ll engage at the different planning levels:
- Level 1 – We’ll engage with regional stakeholders across our whole operating area, such as the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC).
- Level 2 – We’ll continue to engage with existing groups where possible, such as the LLFA Strategic Flood Partnership meetings and the Catchment Partnership meetings. In addition, we’ll seek to engage with established sub-regional multi-agency forums such as River Basin Planning groups. This approach will enhance these existing groups, while reducing the burden of additional meetings for all involved and avoiding the cost of setting up new strategic planning groups for each individual River Basin District.
- Level 3 – We’ll engage with specific local organisations and interested groups, for example, Flood Action Groups, as required and depending upon the issues and risks identified in the baseline risk and vulnerability assessment (BRAVA) and problem characterisation.*
*We may not be able to engage fully with these organisations and groups for the first round of DWMPs due to the tight timetable required by Water UK and Ofwat. However, we will consult customers in each of the Level 2 planning areas about our plans, and later formally through the Level 1 plan public consultation.
We will continue to engage with the planning and development community throughout the production of DWMPs.
Giving our customers a say
We’ll plan wider public consultations with our customers at key stages, most notably once a draft plan has been developed for each Level 2 catchment. This approach is based on our experience producing our Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) with the aim to obtain meaningful feedback prior to finalisation of the plans. This will give our customers and the wider public a chance to have a say on all of our Level 1 and Level 2 plans before we finalise and publish them.
The engagement and consultation periods have been built in to our delivery programme to allow sufficient time for meaningful engagement activities. We plan to stagger the development of regional plans evenly across our counties, with appropriate resource to ensure effective engagement with partner organisations. As we engage with partners, we will discuss the timetable for the external consultation, and may align the consultation periods for each catchment within each county, if this makes responding to the consultations easier for our partners.