Rainwater harvesting could take off with airfield redevelopment
Water reuse
Water storage
Europe
Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Rainwater harvesting could take off with airfield redevelopment

A key part of the Filton airfield redevelopment includes a strategic Surface Water System (SSW) to enable the local reuse of captured rainwater at a new YTL Arena Bristol.

A strategic surface water system

Rainwater harvesting on a large scale could take off further in the UK, as part of the Filton airfield redevelopment.

The former home of the legendary Concorde supersonic aircraft is being turned into a new sustainable housing and business greenfield area.

A £800 million scheme will create over 2600 new homes and over 60 acres of commercial space, schools and health facilities.

The site was purchased by Malaysian company YTL Development in 2015, a subsidiary of YTL Corporation and sister company of local utility, Wessex Water.

“The iconic Brabazon Hangars from the airport are being converted into a 17,080-capacity entertainment destination.”

A key part of the redevelopment is a strategic Surface Water System (SSW) to enable the local reuse of captured rainwater at a new YTL Arena Bristol.

The iconic Brabazon Hangars from the airport are being converted into a 17,080-capacity “entertainment destination”, respecting the site’s engineering legacy past but thrusting it into the future to put Bristol on the world stage.

Rainwater harvesting will be installed over 10,000 square meters of roof surface, with plans to collect, clean and use the water for toilet flushing. Excess rainwater will feed ponds and lakes, created as part of green spaces to enhance the area.

The team in investigating whether the rainwater collecting system to the roofs of the housing areas, including the commercial areas in the whole Filton development.

“We are looking at how this affects the water balance and flows of the entire area, including whether we can close that cycle,” said Jan Hofman, director of the Water Innovation and Research Centre, University of Bath.

Rainwater harvesting modelling

Modelling work on the rainwater harvesting includes estimating the size of the tanks for water storage and even feasibility work on sewer heat recovery, for example, predicting how much heat would be available on the site during the day.

“Rainwater harvesting at scale is still very new.”

Other stakeholders involved include South Gloucestershire Council, The Environment Agency (EA) and local utilities Bristol Water and Wessex Water.

The latter already has a large-scale wastewater treatment plant operating near Bristol, which is being taken into account in the Filton site modelling when it comes to water reuse and the circular economy.

"Rainwater harvesting, at scale, is still very new, and I think it will be used occasionally in the country,” added Hofman. "There has been some research, but there remains a lack of regulation to encourage or discourage it. We’re running ahead of what is available for these systems.”

Policies playing catch up

The Filton airfield demonstration site is part of the Horizon2020 (H2020) NextGen collaboration that aims to drive the Circular Economy through a wide range of water-embedded resources, including water, energy and materials.

“These pilots are the forefront of the new technology, where policies still have to develop.”

Stef Koop, scientific research at KWR Water Research Institute, leading NextGen, said that policy is essential to ensure such systems are truly circular.

“These pilots are the forefront of new technology, new systems, where policies still have to develop and have to adjust. We must get the message of the key opportunities but also the key barriers to implementing new technologies and new systems. The challenge remains of how do we get that message across from more localised sites to these more centralised policymakers?”

 


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