Glasgow’s Smart Canal is a first for Europe

A pioneering new digital surface water drainage system will unlock 110 hectares across the north of the Glasgow for investment, regeneration and development with the construction of Europe’s first ever ‘smart canal’ scheme.

Construction of Europe’s first ever ‘smart canal’ scheme, which will use the 250-year-old Forth & Clyde Canal and 21st century technology to mitigate flood risk as well as enable massive regeneration, is now underway in Glasgow.

The pioneering new digital surface water drainage system will unlock 110 hectares across the north of the city for investment, regeneration and development, paving the way for more than 3000 new homes.

The £17m project, being delivered via a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership, will use sensor and predictive weather technology to provide early warning of wet weather before moving excess rainfall from residential and business areas into stretches of the canal where water levels have been lowered by as much as 10cm. This will create 55,000 cubic metres of extra capacity for floodwater – equivalent to 22 Olympic swimming pools.

Officially named the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System, the project to create a so-called ‘sponge city’ – a term used to describe how cities respond to surface water flooding – will see North Glasgow passively absorb, clean and use rainfall intelligently. Advanced warning of heavy rainfall will automatically trigger a lowering of the canal water level to create capacity for surface water run-off.

Before periods of heavy rain, canal water will be moved safely through a network of newly created urban spaces – from sustainable urban drainage ponds to granite channels – that absorb and manage water in a controlled way, creating space for surface water run-off.

The scheme will unlock 110 hectares across the north of the city for investment, regeneration and development, will see the Forth & Clyde Canal connected to five new sites over the next 10-15 years, including Sighthill, Hamiltonhill, Ruchill Hospital, Cowlairs and Dundashill.  The capital funding for the scheme comes from the Glasgow City Region City Deal, the Green Infrastructure Fund, and Scotland’s 8th City – the Smart City.

The project was launched today by Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken, Scottish Canals’ CEO Catherine Topley and Simon Parsons, Strategic Customer Services Planning Director at Scottish Water, signing a 60-year service agreement.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “This is a fantastic day for Glasgow’s Canal, as we mark the introduction of cutting-edge technology that will both allow surface water in this part of the city to be managed, and allow the building of new homes and businesses on land that historically have been unfit for development.

“It is very exciting to see such smart technology in operation in Glasgow – one of very few examples in the world – and we can look forward to it playing a key role in the continued regeneration of Glasgow’s Canal and the north of the city.”

“By unlocking the inherent value of Glasgow’s Canal and diversifying how we use this publicly-owned heritage asset, we are ensuring it continues to deliver for local people 250 years after it was first built.

”Creating a dynamic urban canal which uses smart technology to move water safely about the city will not only reduce the flood risk impact of climate change, but act as a catalyst for new investment, jobs, homes and businesses in North Glasgow as well as help to create one of the city’s top tourist destinations.”

Catherine Topley, CEO at Scottish Canals

Effective collaboration between Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water, has transformed this visionary concept into reality after a decade of hard work and commitment.

As part of the project, Scottish Water will vest and maintain all underground pipes that are connected to a Scottish Water system and will maintain some of the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs).

Simon Parsons, Scottish Water’s Strategic Customer Services Planning Director, said: “Scottish Water is delighted to be involved in this unique project that enables development in Glasgow and manages flood risk using the canal.

“This will help manage the impact of climate change on the sewer network. This is the sort of development that we are wanting to see more of and are working with local authorities across Scotland under our Storm Water Strategy to deliver.”

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for bridges, buildings, locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. For more information, visit www.scottishcanals.co.uk or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

About Scottish Water

Scottish Water provides vital water and waste water services, essential to daily life, to 2.5million households and 156,000 business premises across Scotland.

Scottish Water’s Storm Water Strategy, which was launched in February 2018, highlights that more effective ways of dealing with storm water above ground will substantially reduce pressure on nearly 32,000 miles of sewer network operated by the utility.

A number of pilots are being considered across the country to test new methods in communities which will reduce flooding risk. These will include more natural approaches such as diverting roof and road water through channels to ponds, use of permeable paving, and property level raingardens.

About Glasgow City Council

Glasgow City Council is working with project partners to tackle issues in the city around flooding and surface water management.  Key to this work are the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership (MGSDP) and the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System (NGIWMS) – both funded by the Glasgow City Region City Deal.  The MGSDP will unlock potential development sites and build greater resilience to long-term climate change, ensuring that aspirations for regeneration and growth are supported by improved infrastructure capacity, and the NGIWMS will use sensors and predictive weather technology to provide early warning of wet weather before moving excess rainfall from residential and business areas into stretches of the canal where water levels have been lowered by as much as 10cm. This will create 55,000 cubic metres of extra capacity to transport surface water from North Glasgow to the River Kelvin during storms. For more information on these schemes, please visit: www.mgsdp.org and www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=21900.

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