The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

The feasibility of domestic raintanks contributing to urban flood resilience (Webinar)

UK Climate Resilience Programme Webinar Series 2021

Date: 10 February

Speakers: Liz Sharp (University of Sheffield), Christine Sefton, Ruth Quinn and Virginia Stovin; stakeholder response from Lee Pitcher (Yorkshire Water)

Chair:  Kate Lonsdale (Co-Champion, UKCR)

See links to a video of the webinar and slides below


This talk examines the feasibility of developing a domestic raintank programme to address urban flood resilience.  Drawing on a co-productive study combining qualitative investigation of flood risk authorities and the public with modelling of raintank functionality, we ask: (1) Is there potential for widespread uptake of raintanks and what would be needed in a raintank promotion programme to maximise uptake? (2) What sorts of raintanks could effectively contribute to flood risk mitigation and be acceptable? And (3) is investment in a raintank promotion programme a feasible future option for urban flood managers?  As we will report, we found widespread appetite for a raintank programme, with enthusiasm for a community-oriented programme of promotion. While our public interviewees had little time for smart raintanks, simple or dual function raintanks were found to meet households’ different needs, with interviewees indicating that they would be willing to empty their raintank ahead of a forecast storm. Modelling found that both dual and active systems could yield advantages to households and flood authorities, indicating that the appropriate system should be selected according to local circumstances. Finally, while a raintank programme was attractive to the flood authorities, to date, community activity has been seen as supplementary rather than central to their role.  The research concluded that while a dual function raintank project is feasible, it is only likely to come to fruition if a transformation in the relations between the flood risk authorities and the public can be achieved.


Liz Sharp is a senior lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning the University of Sheffield.  Her research focuses on how utilities involve the public in their policies and practices.  Working co-productively between water companies and communities, she has examined water efficiency promotion and the development of blue green infrastructure for flood resilience. Although her methods are focused on interpretive social science, Liz undertakes research across disciplines, and has collaborated with colleagues from backgrounds as diverse as Chemical Engineering and History. Outside of work, she has a passion for walking in the hills and taking photographs of trees.

Lee Pitcher is Yorkshire Water’s Head of Resilience and “Living with Water” Board’s General Manager. This partnership has already seen global success with Hull being the only European City and one of five Worldwide to win a Rockefeller Foundation bid  to pioneer the City Water Resilience Framework with partners including the World Bank, ARUP and Stockholm Water Institute. In March 2018, SafeMove, a business for which he  was Departmental Head, picked up the BQF’s Excellence Award for best SME in the UK.  With almost 20 years in the utility industry, Lee has held roles in Customer Service, Asset and Operational Management. He has led organisational design and successfully created and delivered strategy. A former Guinness Book of World Record holder and fluent Russian speaker, Lee recently presented at the World Water Congress in Tokyo.

View the video and presentation slides for the webinar:

  • Recording of the webinar: video
  • Introduction (Kate Lonsdale) and presentation (Liz Sharp): slides