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We need to think differently, work smarter not harder, and look at the bigger picture. The simple water butt might be our biggest weapon yet! We’re exploring the cumulative effects of storing small amounts of water by every household and using smart technology to control and slow down the water flow in major rainfall events.

Project Page Detail:

“The cumulative effect of every household making a small change can lead to a huge impact down-stream”

The biggest flood risk to the city is its water network. Hull has a combined sewer system meaning that the sewers which sit underground not only carry your toilet waste away but also carry away all of the water which lands onto the ground and roofs when it rains heavily. This presents a problem, because when it rains particularly heavily, the sewers can only carry a limited amount away at a time, occasionally causing the combined ground and toilet waste water to escape the system and flood properties.

We believe that water butts and a simple smart sensor might provide some of the solution… think about it for a second, if we could get every household in the city to install a regular 200L water butt, this could provide a handy source of eco-friendly water for your garden… but when it’s forecast to rain heavily… before the sewer system fills up with rain water we could remotely empty all of the city’s water butts into the drains enabling us to safely clear all of this water from the sewers before the rain hits….

Then we’d have all of these water butts (say 110,000 households) which were empty and ready to capture the first 200 litres of rainfall, keeping it from entering the sewer system…. That’s a massive 22 million litres of water held back and creating extra capacity for land run off to safely enter the sewer system and reduce the likelihood of sewer flooding!

Of course, we need to test that this would work in reality so we have a project to do just that, linking with the University of Sheffield and with several supporting trials including the installation of large-scale water harvesting on council-owned buildings, we’re hoping to capture, learn and share this exciting option throughout 2019.

How can I get involved?

We are currently identifying householders who would be interested in installing one of our trial water butts, or key community leaders who would be able to inspire whole communities to take part in this exciting trial, for more information please contact the project manager, Martin Armour on


Yorkshire Water

Nevil Muncaster

Director of Asset Management

Lee Pitcher

General Manager - Living With Water

Catherine Johnson

Portfolio Manager

Emma Brown

Portfolio Manager

Lynnsey Pilmer

Communications and Engagement Manager

Martin Armour

Portfolio Manager

Environment Agency

John Dickinson

Flood Resilience Advisor

Neil Longden

Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager

Hull City Council

Alex Codd

Director of Economic Regeneration

Mark Jones MBE

Head of Economic Development

Rachel Glossop

Flood Risk Planning Manager

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Alan Menzies

Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration

Astrid Paget

Principal Engineer - Flood Risk Strategy

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