16. 12. 2019

Working Together in Partnership

By Rob Henderson, Wessex Water

Rather like Christmas, RESCCUE has been great at bringing people together! Not just the “family” of colleagues within the 18 RESCCUE partner organisations, but also the many hugely helpful individuals who have provided valued inputs to the project – people working for city service providers, utility companies, civil protection offices, emergency services and a host of others.

A fundamental cornerstone of the RESCCUE approach is understanding how city services interact – and hence on how people from different disciplines and specialisms interact. Organisations hold a fantastic wealth of technical and organisational expertise within their corporate systems, within their culture and most importantly, within their workforces – but this tends to be highly specific and geared towards their own business.  However, in order to develop resilience within a city requires sharing knowledge and understanding with other organisations outside of their area of expertise or specialism. 

Providing the information to make good use of RESCCUE methodologies, software tools and information resources requires a high level of dialogue between the service providers and key individuals to be successful. This breaking down of “silo-thinking” and better communication and data sharing between (and within) city departments and service providers is proving to be invaluable in understanding and anticipating some of the critical interactions and problems that would be faced in emergencies.


December saw a very productive workshop meeting of the RESCCUE team in Bristol, involving representatives of utility partners from the electricity, rail network and waste management sectors, plus the Environment Agency, Wessex Water and Bristol is Open (Smart City) as well as various departments within the City Council. Meetings such as these are essential to understand the potential impacts of flooding risks, both now and in the future, and to understand the problems (and solutions) of common interest. It was unanimously agreed that similar meetings should be held regularly in future – and long beyond the lifetime of the RESCCUE project itself.

With the project now considering practical adaptation measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, the workshop provided a structured view on what the future may hold – and an opportunity to think about solutions which may directly benefit two or more organisations. One potential example in the Ashton Vale area of Bristol, involving stream channel improvements and a land-drainage pumping station would be of direct benefit to the Environment Agency, Wessex Water and Bristol City Council in that it would counteract the increasing flooding risk caused by rising sea levels as well as providing opportunities for stormwater separation and hence reduced combined sewer overflow discharges.  Furthermore, there may be an opportunity to integrate these improvements with redevelopment planned for part of the area.

RESCCUE has further strengthened partnership working within Bristol. We have applied techniques and thinking developed in RESCCUE to consider resilient measures on the ground and now the various elements of the city’s long-term flood protection and resilience strategy are rapidly falling into place. 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Resilient New Year!