Water management change with the Environment Agency

Transforming complex legislation for how the UK manages water into simple, understandable and user-focused guidance.

Client: The Environment Agency (SEPA, Defra, GSI)
Type of project: Knowledge Framework, User Experience, Clear Communication
Region: UK and Europe


Background

We take water for granted a lot of the time. Turning on the tap and having a fresh, constant supply. If you’ve ever been without you’ll know just how debilitating it can be. But managing the flow of water is a complicated process – involving a range of stakeholders, regulatory bodies and businesses.

The Environment Agency approached us because of planned new EU legislation – the Water Framework Directive (WFD) – that would affect how the UK manages water. The implication of the new directive was huge and ranged across all aspects of water management.

Because of the legislation, anyone involved with water in Europe would need to understand WFD – from farmers, developers and local authorities to specialist hydrogeologists.

What needed to change

Making sense of new regulation: The regulation needed to be communicated clearly to a range of audiences. Each with different levels of understanding and needs. This meant taking the core regulatory framework and customising the outcomes to fit different users.

A toolbox for change: A change toolkit that would support in the transition was needed. This could be used by the key regulatory parties to disseminate the information to their stakeholders.

Easy access knowledge base: There was a need to develop a knowledge base that could be managed and maintained centrally but would allow users to access key information, tools and learning material to support them in the changes.

What we did

We worked with the Environment Agency as their consultant on the project’s steering group, advising them on practicalities, visual learning devices and working with their suppliers to produce outcomes.

Core change toolkit

We worked alongside specialised consultants in hydrogeology and water science to define ways to produce a range of change management and visual tools to clarify and communicate the legislation.

We were also involved in leading the production of learning tools for scientists, creating audience-focused structures and visual methods for communicating to various audiences.

Wider stakeholder management

We initially started working with the UK’s Environment Agency but, as the project has grown, so has the number of stakeholders. We now work with government departments and NGOs including SEPA, Defra, The Geological Survey of Ireland and the Environment Agency, Wales.

As a key part of the project, we also worked alongside charitable organisations to help streamline the project as more stakeholders came on-board.

Online knowledge base

Initially, we were asked to work on the early stages on a learning learning knowledge base that would explain the complexity of the legislation to multiple audiences.

Over the six-year duration of the project we have produced a range of reports, guidance and outcomes. One of the most significant has been the structure, navigation and development of a online knowledge and learning tool comprising nearly 6,000 hydrogeological images.

This is used by scientists, education establishments and hydrogeologists across Europe to communicate the Directive.

We have also developed a series of on-line knowledge libraries to help communicate the Directive.

In summary

The European Union introduced regulation for how we managed water in the UK – this impacted a large group of stakeholders.

We worked with the Environment Agency (and subsequently SEPA, Defra and the GSI to develop a change toolkit to explain the change to range of unique audiences.

This, over time, became a central knowledge base for explaining and actioning the changes needed.


If you’re doing something similar at the moment we’d love to chat and see if we can help.