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[Video 2] Water management: Mitigating risks on site

Welcome to the second video in our series Environmental law in practice. Click here to visit our content hub to find more information about our team and how we can help.

In this video Rachel Turnbull and Michael Cordeaux look at various aspects of managing water on site including: identifying potential issues, implementing proactive preventative measures and the importance of responding effectively in the event of an incident or issue.

The Topline

“Water pollution is a topic that has become increasingly prominent in recent years.  When your activities threaten to negatively impact upon surface water, it’s really important that you take proactive and prompt measures to minimise any harm caused.  Failure to do so can have serious environmental, financial and reputational consequences.”

Rachel Turnbull, Director, Regulatory & Compliance

Rachel Turnbull


Click here to watch the video.


Key Points:

Understanding water management: Water management involves dealing with surface and ground water on-site as well as managing trade effluence that has been generated as part of your operations.

Factors affecting water on site: Onsite activities can introduce chemicals, sewage, fuels, and silt pollution, which can damage the environment, making it crucial to have a well thought-out water management plan.

Importance of planning: Businesses need to identify risks on site, establish management strategies, define incident response protocols, and assign responsibility for water management at the outset of an operation, rather than wait until an issue has already arisen.

Responsibility for water management: The business or operator is responsible for water management overall but within each business, responsibilities need to be allocated to designated and competent individuals such as the site manager, EHS manager/supervisor, or managing director. A business must also take steps to ensure that contractors are aware of their own obligations and that they fully comply with site rules and procedures.

Significance of water management: Water incidents can result in significant costs, reputational damage, and negative media attention. Compliance failures may lead to enforcement action and impact upon the ability of a business to win future work.

Practical precautions: Anticipating potential risks, especially during particular phases of a project or during high-risk activities is crucial to avoiding significant delays later. Proactive precautions can prevent incidents from escalating and understanding the protective measures available and when to deploy them is key.  These can include filtration systems and effluent treatment plants as well as SUDs ponds, floc mats and straw bales.

Actions when issues arise: In case of an incident, containing the issue quickly to minimise environmental impact is a priority. Investigate the cause, seek independent advice from environmental consultants or legal experts, and consider self-reporting the incident to the regulator.

Mitigating damage: Taking proactive steps to mitigate damage to the water environment, such as invertebrates and fish, can foster a positive relationship with regulators.

Water management: Mitigating risks – how we can support you.

Effective management is essential to prevent environmental incidents and ensure compliance. By developing robust plans, anticipating risks, and taking proactive precautions, businesses can protect the environment, their reputation, and their future projects.

If you have responsibility for water management and want to ensure that you avoid any issues on site becoming serious incidents – contact our Environment team for advice and support.



Regulatory & Compliance

Rachel's contact details

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Senior Associate

Regulatory & Compliance

Michael's contact details

Email me