The National Debate on Resilience in the Water Sector is an annual event hosted by Cranfield University and organised by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe). This event brings together professionals active in the UK water sector.

The WIRe CDT is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and its aim is to nurture a new generation of research leaders to provide the multi-disciplinary, disruptive thinking to enhance the resilience of new and existing water infrastructure.

The UK water sector is looking towards a future that makes better use of big data, artificial intelligence, remote sensing and innovative treatment technology, as well as developing circular economy approaches and delivering carbon neutral operation. This must be completed against a backdrop of operating an old asset base and working within a financial and water quality regulatory framework that does not always enable innovative infrastructure investments.

The management of an aging asset base is a difficult task. Piped networks buried in complex environments, overlapping with multiple services, have high maintenance costs and complex planning schedules, while failure events are impactful and difficult to predict. Above ground assets made of large concrete structures, some designed for 100-year asset life spans, have large footprints and cannot always be repurposed easily.

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