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Fri September 24 2021

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Work gets under way for Glasgow’s ‘smart canal’

31 Oct 18 A project has been launched to create a ‘smart canal’ to help turn North Glasgow into a ‘sponge city’ with less risk of flooding.

The project is being delivered by a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water
The project is being delivered by a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water

Construction is now under way of the new digital surface water drainage system, which will combine the use of the 250-year-old Forth & Clyde Canal and modern technology.

The project involves the creation of a so-called ‘sponge city’ so that North Glasgow can 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.

Mitigating the risk of flood is expected to unlock 110ha across the north of the city for investment, regeneration and development. The council said that the scheme will pave the way for more than 3,000 new homes.

Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken, Scottish Canals CEO Catherine Topley and Simon Parsons from Scottish Water have signed a 60-year service agreement for the project.

The £17m project is being delivered via a partnership of the three organisations under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Scheme. It 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 100mm. This will create 55,000m3 of extra capacity for floodwater – equivalent to 22 Olympic swimming pools.

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The system will be used before periods of heavy rain. Canal water will be moved 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.

Aitken 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.”

Topley added: “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.”

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).  

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