All Blog Posts

Project Groundwater: Environmental Protection through Radical Innovation

In this episode, we are joined by not one but two amazing guests, Jon Mackay from British Geological Survey and Jed Ramsay from Buckingham Council. Both Jon and Jed work in partnership with other organisations, including the team at 3 Sided Cube, on ‘Project Groundwater’. Their expertise provides insight into unseen dangers of groundwater floods, unveiling the critical work of the British Geological Survey and Buckinghamshire Council to forecast and manage these risks through the project. Step into the future of flood preparedness as we discuss our ever-evolving climate, the cutting-edge development of automated flood warning systems, the roles of local communities, and the issue of funding for these kinds of projects.


S5 EP7 Project Groundwater Blogpost featured image

The reality of climate change in 2024 has shifted from a looming forecast to an immediate challenge, and is reshaping the way we interact with our planet.

It’s a complicated web of altered weather patterns, threatened ecosystems, and communities coming to terms with new normals. At 3 Sided Cube, we’re not just spectators; we’re actively engaging with these challenges, seeking out and partnering on projects that change millions of lives for the better.

Enter Project Groundwater, a community’s proactive response to the climate change reckoning. The UK’s recent winters, marked by increased rainfall, have underscored the rising threat of groundwater flooding—a scenario that’s becoming more frequent and severe.

Our latest podcast episode brings this issue to the forefront, with a conversation with Duncan, our fearless leader and Founder, and two exceptional guests: Jon Mackay from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Jed Ramsay from Buckinghamshire Council. Their expertise offers a deep dive into the science and community efforts driving Project Groundwater, an exciting new project our ridiculously talented Cubes are working on at HQ.

This conversation isn’t just technical chit-chat, but a spotlight for awareness, and innovation. Climate change might be the challenge of our generation, but initiatives like Project Groundwater remind us that with knowledge, collaboration, and action, we can certainly turn the tide.

Project Groundwater

As one of the twenty-five projects that are part of the Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme, Project Groundwater focuses on mitigating the risk of Groundwater flooding.

Floods can be grouped by the different sources such as:

  • Seas
  • Rivers
  • Surface water including drains
  • Groundwater is the water held in rocks.

Groundwater is particularly an underestimated key resource of drinking water, but it’s also a source of major damage. Due to the lack of visibility of groundwater and groundwater floods compared to other flood types, public awareness is incredibly low. Adding to this, groundwater flooding is often left as ‘too difficult to deal with’ due to a lack of data and understanding of this specific flood type. 

This means that at-risk local communities have often established their own flood plans to deal with the risk.

However, groundwater is more predictable and is slower rising than other flood types so gathering the necessary data can give people enough warning with accurate lead times.

That’s where Project Groundwater comes in!

Groundwater floods are barely understood, it's not mapped, it's not modelled very well, there's patchy, if any, flood warning systems for it

Jed Ramsay, Programme Manager at Buckinghamshire Council, Lead for Project Groundwater

Funded by DEFRA, Project Groundwater is part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes managed by the Environmental Agency to drive innovation projects in coastal and flooding resilience and adaptation. The project aims to establish more automated monitoring of groundwater levels to a frequency that provides useful and insightful data.

Community Engagement

The current broad alerts are essential to provide warnings and aid emergency partners, but there’s also the need to link these forecasts to the actual impact groundwater floods have on individuals and communities at a local level.

One way Project Groundwater is working towards this is by working with local communities. By zoning into more specific areas, they can gain a deeper understanding of how these local communities are affected and what Floodplans they already have in place. These specific actions can include helping particular neighbours, moving animals out of fields, moving vehicles away, and even turning on pumps to mitigate the risks of a groundwater flood.

All of this information is key for the development of the project.

Currently, Project Groundwater is working with nine communities across Chiltern Hills and Berkshire Downs. They differ in terms of their size, locations, type of floods, their experience with floods, as well as their engagement and knowledge of groundwater flooding. There are still some big questions to answer though, How will the wider rollout work? How can Project Groundwater encourage other areas to adopt the system? Where will long-term funding come from? Who will own the system?

It's about trying to use innovative ways to deal with all these issues and then get that rolled out wider across the country and get things changed at a national level as well, so that we deal with it better as a country.

Jed Ramsay, Programme Manager at Buckinghamshire Council, Lead for Project Groundwater

Listen to the full episode here

Would you have guessed that drones can aid in gathering groundwater data? Tune in to hear more details of how military-level drones can gather information on a scale never seen before for groundwater data, but also the complexities that come with this cutting-edge technology.

Catch the full episode below!

Published on March 21, 2024, last updated on March 22, 2024

Give us the seal of approval!

Like what you read? Let us know.