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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Adam Cambridge
06 Oct 2016

The water and environment sector is transforming, largely, in my view, due to the role that digital services are increasingly playing in our day to day life. The increased use of digital services is profoundly influencing society daily, so it’s little wonder that it’s now also affecting the water industry, which is a powerful journey to be starting.  The power of digital services is best visualised if you think back to the Arab Spring revolutions where governments were toppled for transformation - essentially through the use of online social media galvanising societal views. This showed that digital services can be the platform for citizens to make more informed and collective decisions for governance, or services, but may not necessarily be the enduring pieces of infrastructure that we need over the longer term due to the pace of technological advancement and disruption that can follow. What is clear, however, is that we are entering a digital age. What’s fuelling the drive towards a digital age? In the water and environment sector, we are already seeing the benefits of easier data access in the projects we undertake. For example, we can now freely access the whole LiDAR archive (a dataset that represents land surfaces) which allows engineering designs to achieve a high level of accuracy and more quickly than ever before. This enables growth, whilst embedding resilience to our new infrastructure, and supporting long term sustainability due to improved accuracy. So, we should not fear entering this new age. Another aspect I believe is driving us

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Ian Heijne
19 Sep 2016

For me it is hugely important for a variety reasons. Firstly, the report has finally acknowledged public concern that there has been too much damage to property due to flooding in recent years. Secondly, it is evidence that the government has taken this opportunity to at last advance the technical understanding of flood risk – something that has been outdated for quite some time. So does it achieve these objectives?  Yes and no. The emphasis of this review is on the impact of flooding on public services and infrastructure, which is important as disruption to the road network, electricity supply and water supply has to be avoided. Working closely with the water companies and telecoms, the government has gained agreement for some 530 vulnerable sites to be protected. This is good news. This report has also undertaken a significant piece of research, carried out by the Met Office, to completely reshape the way that we predict rainfall, which is something that consultants like Atkins have needed for some time. Instead of looking back at recorded data and then using some ‘simple maths’ to attempt to predict what the future holds, the Met Office’s weather forecasting computers can now generate over 900 years of future rainfall predictions across the whole of the UK. This is a major step forward. From my perspective, we must move away from statistical analysis to this new synthesis based approach based on actual physical processes. Importantly the findings of this review confirm that the ‘Extreme Flood Outlines’ (areas with

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Linda Potter
22 Aug 2016

This pattern of flux between hot and dry and severe storms often results in severe wildfires followed by flash flooding. Hillside fires scorch the ground, destroy vegetation, and leave nothing behind to absorb rainfall and slow floodwaters. And with the type of fire damage we frequently see in Arizona, flooding probability increases due to hydrophobic (water-repellent) soil, which is a temporary by-product of its exposure to high temperatures. The soil also tends to slide downhill because there is little vegetation to hold it in place, contributing to mudslides. The combination of these weather patterns often leaves little time after a fire disaster to prepare for potential flooding emergencies in nearby communities. After the Doce and Yarnell Hill fires in 2013, which tragically claimed the lives of 19 firefighters, Atkins was mobilized to provide post-burn floodplain mapping and risk identification for Yavapai County. Within 36 hours of the fire’s containment, we developed models using timesaving GIS-based automation in conjunction with hydrologic and hydraulic software to develop predictive post-burn flood inundation areas, depths, water surface elevations and velocities. These models provided flood inundation limits to help the community get a clearer picture of what they may face in the future while the burn areas recovered. Fires again erupted in Yavapai County in June of 2016. Fortunately, they were contained before reaching nearby urban areas—resulting in fewer damages than the 2013 event. We once again used our models to predict potential increases in flooding risk and worked with the county to develop strategies that would

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Richard Leighton
19 Aug 2016

Having worked for several decades on projects that were driven in part by the need to ensure resilience, I find it extremely encouraging that resilience is now high up on OFWAT’s and, Water UK’s agenda. OFWAT is seeking to address the impacts of climate change and population growth, by setting out its own road map for developing regulation. For example, it is reassuring to see that OFWAT is seeking to drive up-stream competition and break down barriers optimising the utilisation of scarce water resources. This will, for the first time, incentivise the transfer of water between companies. Comparisons are often made with power, which raises the challenge, “Why don’t we have a national grid for water as we do for power?” OFWAT is seeking to address the regulatory aspects, but there are also engineering and chemical barriers to overcome. Water is dense, making it extremely difficult and costly to move large quantities around the country. Unlike electricity, water from different sources varies in taste, and changing or mixing water from different sources which can lead to customer complaints. Added to this, the quality of water deteriorates over time as it passes through the piped network. However, the need for greater flexibility to transfer water around the country is growing. We are currently completing work for Water UK to consider the impact of climate change over the medium term on resilience taking population growth into account. The indications are ensuring resilience is going to be a growing challenge. The Abstraction Incentive

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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

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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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To reduce the risk of flash flooding in downtown Las Vegas, Atkins provided engineering design services for a 5-mile storm drain system serving the city’s central regions. The system starts at the intersection of Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, about 5 miles northwest of the famous Las Vegas Strip, ending at the Oakey Meadows detention basin near Springs Preserve. Atkins designed 15,000 feet of storm drain conveyance, an additional 5,000 feet of storm drain collection facilities and 1,600 feet of concrete open channel, capable of conveying up to 4,772 cubic feet per second (cfs) to the basin. The storm drain will provide enhanced flood protection for buildings and street intersections along the system’s route, in particular the flood-prone intersections along Decatur Boulevard. The system is one of about 20 flood control projects being developed by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, including channels, underground diversion tunnels, and detention basins. Due to the magnitude of construction, the project was split into four phases to divide the construction up into manageable sections. The project includes reinforced concrete box culverts ranging in size from 12 by 5 feet to 23 by 8 feet; rectangular reinforced concrete channel up to 45 feet wide and 10 feet deep; reinforced concrete pipes; storm drain drop inlets; junction manholes; transition structures; pavement renewal and replacement along the storm drain corridor, and a confluence structure for the Alta Channel and Oakey Meadows storm drain.

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A joint venture between Atkins and Arup has been appointed for a consultancy contract to deliver a range of design and engineering services for BMB; the joint venture between BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty, who have been appointed by Tideway to deliver the West section of London’s new ‘super sewer’, the Thames Tideway Tunnel.  Valued at £416 million the six kilometre ‘West’ section of the 25km Thames Tideway Tunnel will run from Acton in West London to Wandsworth in South West London incorporating seven separate work sites along the route. Works will include design, construction, commissioning and maintenance following construction completion.  The new tunnel will be the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.  The completion is scheduled for 2022. 

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Atkins was appointed by Surrey County Council to help reduce flood risk in the county. As part of our services, we developed and implemented an innovative solution to prioritise areas at risk of flooding for further investigation across the whole of Surrey. As a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), Surrey County Council is responsible for managing local flood risk from groundwater, surface water and ordinary watercourses. The Surrey Flood Risk Partnership Board, a local stakeholder group, meet on a regular basis to discuss the priorities for investing in flood risk. The prioritisation tool provides the group with most relevant, readily available data to quickly identify which areas in Surrey had the greatest need for managing flood risk on a strategic level. The flood risk prioritisation tool is a GIS based multi-criteria tool that incorporates the flood risk information from multiple theoretical and historic data sources including Environment Agency flood map and records of property flooding collated by Surrey County Council. The tool provides a strategic overview of flood risk across the whole of Surrey in a simple and easy to use format. This project was completed in 2013 and is updated annually. The latest version incorporates flood economic data using Atkins flood economic tool, Flood DamaGIS. This enhancement allows Surrey County Council to consider the potential for a viable economic business case as part of the prioritisation. Atkins also developed an excel based tool, which works alongside the GIS, enabling the client to adjust the weightings applied. This allows the client to quickly assess

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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


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