North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System - Glasgow's Smart Canal

The concept for the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System (NGIWMS) - Glasgow's Smart Canal - was born in 2013 following a review into how additional value could be levered from the 18th century infrastructure of the Forth and Clyde Canal system. The need for Glasgow City Council (GCC) to regenerate a large area of North Glasgow constrained by limited capacity in the combined sewer network, and a lack of existing watercourses provided the opportunity to align Scottish Canals' and GCC goals.

The idea was then developed through the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership with Scottish Water, Glasgow City Council (GCC) and Scottish Canals seeking the most sustainable way to utilise existing assets to enable blue-green, water resilient development.

The pioneering digital surface water drainage system unlocks 110 hectares of land across North Glasgow, enabling up to 3,000 new homes across 5 core development areas. It is one of the first dynamically managed surface water management systems in the world.

Smart Canal core development sites

Plan showing the 5 core development areas

The system feeds live weather forecasting data into real-time hydraulic simulation of flows, autonomously identifies extreme weather and proactively, through a SCADA control system sending commands to remotely open and close valves, closes canal feeders and lowers, via three discharge points, the water level of the canal by up to 100mm across the 19km Forth and Clyde Canal summit pound, creating capacity for 55,000m3 of surface water (which is the equivalent of 22 Olympic swimming pools) in advance of the forecast rainfall.

Smart Canal control system

Representation of control system

This provides a drainage system to manage rainfall events up to the 0.5% Annual Exceedance of Probability (200 year), including climate change. Without this scheme, there would have either remained a significant economic constraint to development or a retention of increasing flood risk within and downstream of the developments, which includes Glasgow City Centre and the M8 motorway.

The project is estimated to save over 5,000t Capital CO2e and over 30,000t Operational CO2e by utilising an existing 18th century asset (the canal - a scheduled monument) with 21st century technology, when compared to the traditional, carbon heavy, approach using a transfer tunnel constructed of reinforced concrete, and estimated to cost over £40M.

Funding for the £17M smart canal project has come from a range of sources, with the main elements funded from Glasgow City Region City Deal ( and the European Regional Development Fund via Scotland's 8th City - the Smart City and Green Infrastructure Intervention programmes

A video explaining the partnership approach is available here -

An animation explaining how the system works is available here -

The smart canal project started works on-site in 2018, and reached practical completion in 2020.

The first connection to the Smart Canal, from the Sighthill development, was formally marked at an event on 10 November -

The project has won a number of awards:-

  1. Water Industry Awards 2021 - Sustainable Drainage & Flood Management Initiative of the Year - - May 2021 - awarded to The MGSDP - Glasgow City Council, Scottish Water and Scottish Canals - The North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System - Glasgow's Smart Canal

  2. Association for Public Service Excellence Awards 2021 - Best Innovation/Demand Management Initiative - - September 2021 - awarded to Glasgow City Council for the Glasgow Smart Canal project.

  3. Scottish Civil Engineering Awards 2020-21 - organised jointly by CECA Scotland and ICE Scotland - Greatest Contribution to Scotland Award - - September 2021 - awarded to Glasgow's Smart Canal.

  4. British Construction Industry Awards 2021 - 'Initiative of the Year' - - October 2021 - awarded to McKenzie Construction and Scottish Canals for the Glasgow Smart Canal project.

  5. British Construction Industry Awards 2021 - 'Industry Transformation and Innovation Champions' - - October 2021 - awarded to McKenzie Construction and Scottish Canals for the Glasgow Smart Canal project.

  6. E&T Innovation Awards 2021 - Sustainability and Climate Change category - - November 2021 - awarded to Innovyze and Fairfield Control Systems for the Glasgow Smart Canal project.


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