Positioning the UK
water industry for
long term success

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Water is an increasingly important but unevenly distributed resource globally. Atkins supports the water, wastewater and water-related environmental sectors with services from water strategy planning and flood management to infrastructure design and maintenance.


Water supply and quality is constantly challenged by growing populations, climate change, pollution and changing lifestyles - it’s a complex industry which requires the right skills and the right people to ensure that water services are fit for today and tomorrow.

Driven by the need to help clients deliver greater value for their customers, we’re constantly pushing research and innovation boundaries with a comprehensive range of services from water strategy planning to infrastructure design and maintenance.

In the water industry, there’s no such thing as an off-the-peg project, that’s why we value close working relationships built around the right people. We work side-by-side with our clients to ensure that their water services are fit for today as well as tomorrow, and together, we challenge existing methods and develop new solutions, whether that be the introduction of new assets or extracting more value from existing ones.

We have more than 650 professionals committed to the water market around the world.



Atkins is a major player in the water market, supporting the water, wastewater and water-related environmental sectors with consistently exceptional services.

Our areas of expertise include:

Water utility infrastructure

We provide advice and deliver engineering solutions from planning, feasibility, design and procurement to construction supervision to optimise water and wastewater networks. Supported by the latest analytical and modelling packages and computer aided design, we help our clients define problems and prioritise investment programmes.

Flood management

We reduce the impact of flooding whether from rivers, the sea, urban drainage, flood defence failure or groundwater. Not only do we design and implement flood alleviation schemes, we also develop strategies to guide sustainable management of flood risk in catchments and urban areas.

We build forecasting systems to provide advanced warning of significant flood events and develop emergency plans, so that when flood events do occur, the stakeholders affected will have procedures in place to manage such incidents safely.

For more information you can read our:
flood emergency planning leaflet,
developer flood risk assessment leaflet,
critical infrastructure and flooding leaflet.

Dams and reservoirs

Our team can inspect, design and construct all types of dams and reservoirs. We help to address client concerns relating to safety, stability, flooding and seismic activity by conducting assessments and developing integrated solutions to reduce such risks.

Regulatory compliance and research

We provide a detailed understanding and assessment of environmental regulation and policy to help determine what impact the drivers will bring. We have delivered financial savings and reduced the carbon emission impact of regulation and policy by working collaboratively with regulators and regulated stakeholders.

River management

We have a deep understanding of rivers from rehabilitation and design of waterway structures to navigation, hydropower development, water supply and recreational purposes. We are skilled in the development of an integrated approach to the planning, management and control of rivers, waterways and river environments to ensure their sustainable use and protection.

For more information you can read our managing rivers brochure.

Surface water and drainage

We have the skills required to develop effective surface water management plans and contribute to water cycle studies, which draw on our extensive experience in surface water drainage, flood risk, sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), water quality, GIS database development and engineering design.

For more information, please read our surface water management brochure.

Aquatic ecology

Freshwater ecology is the study of the relationships and interactions between organisms within their environment. In the aquatic ecology business our main areas of concern are with flowing water in watercourses of all sizes (small streams through to main rivers), standing waters (from small ponds to large lakes) and wetlands (bog, fen, mire and wet grassland systems).

For more information, please read our freshwater ecology brochure.

Hygiene and sanitation

We work within developing countries around the world to improve sanitation and health conditions in both the rural and urban environment. Our specialists provide integrated and innovative technical and management solutions to enhance water safety, improve sanitation and change hygiene behaviour.

For more information, please read our water sanitation and health flyer.


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Richard Piggin
19 May 2017

The WannaCry or Wanna Decryptor malware has affected 150 countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, France, and Japan. Several variants have already been reported, all presently targeting Windows-based operating systems, including embedded versions. Further variations, which could target other operating systems such as Linux, are anticipated. Early indications suggested email phishing campaigns initially infected computers, using email attachments and malicious websites links have been confirmed. The worm then spreads across networks. While assurances have been given regarding the loss of patient data, the malware provides backdoor access to victim’s computers, so data theft is a distinct possibility. Yet, the issue isn’t just about the security of patient information, it’s also about preventing patient harm. This is not an isolated incident. Similar incidents have already occurred in the healthcare sector, even in the UK. Only a few hospitals were affected, attracting limited publicity and concern. Many more medical facilities belonging to the U.S. MedStar Health provider were severely disrupted last year. The impact of such attacks also feature in a new BSI publication on Medical Device Cyber Security, which describes the convergence of safety and security risk, along with defensive principles. Other sectors have also been impacted  including UK,  French and Romanian car plants and the German rail operator. Spanish victims included telecoms multinational Telefonica, and utilities Iberdrola and Gas Natural. Critical infrastructure asset owners have been impacted by ransomware in the past, including several power utilities. Organisations with unsupported operating systems or ineffective patching programmes will continue to be vulnerable. At best,

UK & Europe ,

Jamelyn Austin Trucks
27 Apr 2017

Understandably, changing a city’s entire mindset about water management is a tall order. For years, water in the Crescent City was viewed as a threat instead of an asset. To make matters worse, efforts to control the city’s water were loosely organized and piecemeal, with projects often appearing in duplicate plans created by multiple organizations. As various stakeholders began work on implementing aspects of the Urban Water Plan, it became clear that collaboration across all levels of the community was necessary to connect expertise and leverage limited resources. To fill this need, a diverse coalition of individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and design-engineering firms gathered together to create the Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans. This unique, multi-sector regional partnership seeks to facilitate the flow of information on emerging issues in water management, identify green infrastructure design and investment opportunities, and foster effective partnerships among participants at the ground level. The Water Collaborative gives residents, businesses, non-profits, and engineering firms a chance to learn from each other about water management best practices and to give input on what tangible results they want to see in their own communities. Various activities to date include community training workshops, policy forums, a continuing education series for designers and builders, walk and learn tours, and advocacy for better stormwater laws. Helping members of the community learn about and become more comfortable with water management concepts broadens support for green infrastructure projects and related policies going forward. One of the best examples of the Water Collaborative’s early success was

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Guy Ledger
18 Apr 2017

In its Water 2020 report Ofwat states a shared vision for the water sector in England and Wales that relies on everyone in the sector “working together, listening to customers and tackling long-term challenges” – so how will this vision from Ofwat unfold in practice?  In my role as business development director, and having seen 25 years of change within the water industry, I’d say something of a revolution is now underway. Soon we’ll see competition in the water retail sector go live, giving businesses across England the option to switch suppliers and consolidate their water and wastewater services.  The next step is direct procurement. This means we’ll see water companies going to the marketplace not just for design and construction very large projects with a value of £100 million or more, as they’ve always done, but also for project financing. This opens up the opportunity for new consortia to deliver the industry’s biggest and most exciting projects, but building large, new infrastructure is a costly and risky business, and Ofwat is more than aware that eventually the customer foots the bill.  So raising project-specific finance from new investors and consortia could change the dynamics of the market, leading to commercial innovation and ultimately better value for end users.  It’s a model already being used in the £4.2 billion Thames Tideway ‘super-sewer’, London’s second biggest infrastructure project after Crossrail, which is being funded through a combination of increases in Thames Water customers’ bills together with a £2.8 billion investment from Tideway, whose investors have invested

UK & Europe ,

Ben Piper
22 Mar 2017

With World Water Day this week, we’ve turned our attention to the work that is being done across the world to manage our precious water resources. The priority of the UK water industry is clear – to provide a safe, reliable supply for customers across the UK. In order to deliver this, there has been an increasing need to ensure that the water industry as a whole plans for the long term –and there is more need than ever before for it to consider its role in protecting the UK against the growing risk of drought. So what has happened to date? Since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989, the approaches and methodologies for water resource planning in the UK have developed into a set of guidelines that all water companies have to adhere to in their Water Resource Management Plans (WRMP) and Drought Plans.  In addition to the general development of methodologies to capture more robust data and new analytical techniques, there have also been a number of extreme weather events - such as the 1995 drought that particularly impacted the North East, the 2007 summer floods and the dry winter of 2011-2012. These factors combined, have not just changed conventional methodologies, but they have also changed legislation and regulation too. For example, the 1997 Water Summit led to the production of a 10-point plan on improving water management including the setting of mandatory leakage targets. The traditional approach to water resource planning has been to assess how

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In the fall of 2016, the WSSC finished construction on the latest expansion, marking the completion of the $30 million project, and the completion of their goal. For us, it’s a decisive moment in Atkin’s long and fruitful partnership with the WSSC. Since 1996 the WSSC has called on our expertise to make significant changes and improvements to the plant. The original biological nutrient removal (BNR) project incorporated new and expanded facilities, from preliminary treatment through tertiary filtration. During that project, as part of the client’s team, we evaluated various technologies and construction approaches which reduced the expected $80 million construction cost by $30 million. The 2011 enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) upgrade and expansion project pushed the limits of current standards in wastewater engineering—allowing us to create a cutting-edge design that could be retrofitted into the existing plant while keeping it fully operational. We added a fifth aeration tank, increasing the plant capacity to 26-mgd to allow for planned growth in the region, and converted activated sludge facilities to a flexible MLE or 4-four stage Bardenpho™ process; this will allow the plant to reduce supplemental carbon usage during warmer temperatures, or lower flow to achieve ENR. Additional work included: two new 400 HP turbo blowers, one new 150-foot-diameter secondary clarifier and extension of RAS facilities, seven new deep bed denitrification filters (for a total of 20), a new methanol storage and feed facility, and an expanded solids-handling facility with new centrifuge dewatering unit. The design innovations vital to this project will ensure wastewater is


In an ongoing problem, Yucca Valley’s 10,000 septic systems have been leaking contaminants—including nitrates, pharmaceuticals, and salts—endangering the town’s scarce groundwater. These systems discharge 180 tons of nitrogen into the ground year-after-year. That’s enough nitrogen to fertilize 3,760 football fields. The community is under a state order to remove septic tanks by 2025 to protect groundwater. To address this problem, the Hi-Desert Water District utilized our engineering services to design a brand-new wastewater collection and treatment system. This project is the first of three phases to convert the existing septic systems to a public sewer system—protecting groundwater and allowing the Yucca Valley community to grow. The first step will convert approximately 5,000 properties necessitating 77 miles of sewer mains and three sewer pump stations. At the beginning of the design process, we reviewed all planning assumptions and flow projections, and developed a comprehensive model of the future collection system to meet the needs of Yucca Valley. The proposed collection system is a new system in the community (there were no previous flow projections to use) requiring our design team to rely on our work in other desert communities. The design team focused on reviewing design criteria, evaluating existing water use, and determining when buildout of the community would occur. Our detailed analysis of existing infrastructure and project specifications resulted in significant cost savings to the district and residents. The Phase I system is currently under construction, and we look forward to working with the Hi-Desert Water District as they roll out subsequent phases in the coming


During large storm events, the Las Vegas Wash channel overbanks would flood due to overflow of the main channel, requiring regular and costly debris cleanup and repair of the facility’s only access road. Despite it not being designed to do so, the access road served as a grade control structure to protect improvements made to the channel upstream. Aside from making the facility inaccessible, failure of the road would have jeopardized the structural stability of those improvements as well as threatened underground utilities. Failure of the access road would have also resulted in damages to the surrounding private and public properties and facilities. To remedy, channel improvements were designed to increase capacity and protect against any further damage. A secondary access road was constructed; 1,100 feet of various new utilities (20-inch water, twelve 6-inch power conduits, twelve 4-inch fiber-optic conduits, and four 12-inch sludge lines) crossing the wash were designed; and other increased security measures were put in place to secure the site. To reduce cost and expedite construction of a new 200-foot steel girder bridge over Las Vegas Wash, we worked with the construction contractor and CCWRD to recycle steel girders from a former bridge. We inspected the old bridge’s superstructure, investigated the life span of the steel, verified the geometry of the girders for compatibility of design, and modeled using MDX software. 1D and 2D (pre- and post-project) hydraulic models of the area were also developed and sediment transport analysis was performed to ensure that there are not adverse impacts to


Atkins worked with SFWMD to forecast the total cost of keeping the system operational and within acceptable levels of risk. Through a phased approach, we began by documenting each asset with its associated lifetime cost—recognizing that many assets would be in need of repair or replacement at the same time in the next 20 to 30 years. As a result, we identified the need to optimize maintenance scheduling so costs could be spread out over time, while ensuring no assets were going too far beyond their projected lifespan. Anchored by a digital workbench developed in Excel, the second phase implemented a solution that allows managers to quickly load assets into Excel’s familiar table system. The data is then used for modeling scenarios to optimize long-range life-cycle capital expenditures for existing and planned infrastructure. The workbench is linked to a central database and scenarios are published for the management team to review. By working with SFWMD staff and clearly identifying the level of detail needed for the results, a fully-reviewed system report was ready in four months. The application was installed as a “living document” and is updated from the District’s inventory of record. This powerful set of tools allows SFWMD’s managers to understand risks and create consensus on management scenarios, while building confidence in proposed budgets to manage the system in the future. Using this application, the SFWMD was able to demonstrate a need to increase its budget by roughly $20 million per year in order to


Atkins has completed the flood control master plan updates for the Las Vegas Valley since 1997 (consultant-led updates). Individual flood control plans must be reviewed every five years, and the master plan must be continuously updated to assess progress, identify obstacles, and to recommend changes needed due to growth and development of the area. Over time, the master plan has evolved into a technical tool for guiding local governmental agencies and private consultants in the development of both public and private property. The master plan update process includes data collection, updating land use data, determining hydrologic modeling parameters using GIS capabilities, updating hydrologic models, updating the flood control facilities inventory in a GIS geodatabase, making master plan facility recommendations, and estimating facility construction costs. To support this process, Atkins developed a hydrologic model of over 1,500 square miles, which defines accurate 100-year peak flows and volumes for the entire valley. Atkins also developed a relational geodatabase to represent valley watersheds and associated regional flood control facilities, serving as the foundation for associated modeling efforts. A custom suite of GIS tools was also developed to facilitate the continuous update/maintenance of the master plan. In addition, an automated cost estimation tool was created to predict the future cost of flood control facilities for more accurate forecasting and planning. The tool summarizes the costs of all facilities in the region, keeping track of the value of flood control infrastructure—helping our client best plan for and provide effective flood controls. © Jeffreyjcoleman |


As part of our commitment to support the Risk MAP program, Atkins developed Floodmap Desktop (FMD), the only publicly available digital flood insurance rate map (DFIRM) software on the market. FMD enables users to create discovery maps, flood hazard profiles, flood risk reports and databases, quality control reports, and flood insurance studies. Automated and flexible data processing capabilities allows users to access, develop, compile and report on floodplain data easily and efficiently. FMD can be licensed as a single standalone license or floating server license(s) for maximum project efficiency. FMD includes enhanced quality checks to verify all data meets FEMA quality control requirements, and contains topological rules to ensure the database feature classes are topologically correct. Help desk support is also included, as are software updates with a yearly license. With FloodMap Desktop, users have a simple, quick, and effective tool to complete DFIRM tasks and Risk MAP projects. For more information or to download a trial version, please visit


The primary tools for controlling and treating stormwater are referred to as stormwater best management practices (BMPs). BMPs include features such as detention ponds, rain gardens, and swales, which slow and treat stormwater as it moves through the system, helping to reduce flood risk during storms and also improve water quality. To help the city decide where BMPs should be placed for the best results, Atkins worked with Bonita Springs to develop the BMP Assessment Tool (BAT). The tool allows the city to simulate various scenarios for placing BMPs throughout the stormwater drainage system. Using a rainfall/runoff algorithm, the tool estimates pollutant loads across the network for each scenario, supporting informed decision-making on which BMPs to implement and where to place them. A challenge in evaluating pollutant levels is estimating the amount of directly connected impervious areas (DCIA) in a community. These areas include buildings, driveways, parking lots, and roads that contribute to high concentrations of pollution. Traditionally, the way to accurately estimate DCIA is to use aerial imagery—an expensive and labor-intensive process many communities cannot afford. The BAT uses a new process of “virtualizing” DCIA by interpreting available road and parcel databases to simulate its likely location, producing a more accurate (and less costly) estimate of DCIA than traditional land use-based methods. By creating what-if scenarios, based on existing conditions and proposed BMP plans, the city was able to reach consensus on their citywide BMP plan. The plan includes a new multi-million dollar park project, which will improve recreation

USA , North America ,

Rather than repair and maintain the refuge in its existing form (an artificial freshwater habitat), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined the best solution was to return the habitat back to its original state as a salt/brackish marsh. Before active management, the refuge was diked and managed into four freshwater impoundments that cover more than 10,000 acres. Atkins identified sustainable solutions by addressing the necessary repairs and developed the steps necessary to allow the refuge to revert to a salt and brackish marsh. We generated a hydrodynamic and numerical model of the refuge and the adjacent bay region using Delft3D modeling software to account for the effects of tides, wind, waves, and the mixing of fresh and salt water. Our staff of technical, scientific, and industry experts conceived a design that incorporated existing features with new ones in a way that balanced theory and constructability. This project led to the creation of an established Atkins model for habitat restoration and flood-proofing for coastal developments facing sea level rise. By incorporating sustainable design into natural and manmade features, such as conveyance channels, this model is a “next-step” approach to basic marsh-fill designs and may provide resource benefits to recent re-nourishment projects along the gulf coast. The refuge’s design serves as a model for effective management of coastal erosion from sea level rise—applicable to many other areas along the U.S. coastline. The project received the 2016 Environmental Excellence Silver Award from the World Organization of Dredging Associations (WODA) in its

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Ready to dig  

Atkins is the UK’s leading provider of utility reports. We also provide a wide range of utility management services across the lifecycle of a project.


For more information on our work and experience in this sector please contact:


Graham Hunt
Water market director
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1372 75 4413     

Matthew Toy
International client director
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1372 754 268

Middle East

Ben Thompson
Head of communications
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 4 405 9193

North America

United States of America
Tel: +1 800 477 7275




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