British Water partners Highways England to tackle drainage

  • Innovation Exchange will identify latest advances in drainage
  • Experts from water sector and highways to meet in Birmingham
  • Prefabricated systems, pipes and water quality up for discussion

Innovative approaches to the design, building and maintenance of drainage systems will be the focus of an event bringing together water industry experts and professionals responsible for England’s motorways and trunk roads. The Innovation Exchange, which takes place in Birmingham on 8 February, has been organised by trade association British Water in collaboration with Government-owned company Highways England.

Prefabricated manholes, attenuation solutions, pipe materials and innovative methods of treating environmental pollution will be among the technology being presented.

Improving efficiency

Claire Minett, of Highways England’s Regional Investment Programme said: “The response has been overwhelming and there is clearly a great deal of interest in innovative approaches to drainage.

“Highways England is looking at new products and technologies with a view to improving efficiency. The idea is to take a fresh look and to see if there are new ways of doing things that could be adopted to help improve the way the highways are designed, built and maintained.”

As well as looking at ways to improve drainage and prevent flooding Highways England is currently investigating new methods of building, particularly off-site manufacture of components such as manholes, attenuation solutions and catchpits. The organisation also has an interest in pipe technology and water quality and is investigating innovative ways to treat highways run-off.

Santi Santhalingam - Lead Drainage Specialist of Highways England’s Environment Group, explained that an internal exercise had been undertaken to identify the surface water drainage themes which would likely deliver the greatest benefit for introduction through the planned regional improvements.

Sharing expertise

Claire Minett said: “There is a huge amount of expertise within the water industry about new building methods and materials as well as ways of tackling environmental pollution. This event will be a great way to share expertise and information. It has been fantastic to collaborate with British Water and the response from the road building industry shows there is a great deal of interest in considering new ways of thinking.”

Dr David Smoker, Business Development Director for surface water management specialist ACO said: “This event is a great opportunity to present innovations that are relevant to both the water industry and the highways sector. It is very well timed because Highways England is currently actively looking for innovative ideas which will enable it to do things more efficiently.”

Andy Bailey, Senior Drainage Engineer for Highways England said “Our experiences participating in British Water Groups, such as the Sustainable Water Management (SuWM) Focus Group, attracted us to British Water Innovation Exchanges as a time and resource efficient route to engage with as broad a range of the industry as possible.”

Innovative technology

Marta Perez, Technical Director for British Water said: “There are a lot of exciting new technologies around when it comes to drainage systems. British Water members have a great range of expertise when it comes to new materials, construction methods and design.

“Highways England has participated in British Water technical forums for some time, but this is the first time the two organisations have collaborated on an event.”

More than a hundred delegates are expected to attend the event, which will be held at De Vere Venues, Birmingham on 8 February 2017. Highways consultants, contractors and designers and water industry drainage specialists will be among those exchanging knowledge and ideas.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit:

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