Water resources

Expertise in engineering and management

Water in our environment

Expertise in engineering and management

International water management

Expertise in engineering and management

Waste Water

Expertise in engineering and management

Urban water

Expertise in engineering and management

Welcome to Michael Norton Water Consultancy

An internationally recognised expert in water engineering, water supply, water resources, wastewater and stormwater challenges, Michael was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2009 for his outstanding services to water and international trade. Michael Norton offers assessment, management, review and consultancy to private sector, public sector, government and non-government organisations on a regional, national and international scale.

of the earth surface is water

of water is in the oceans

of water is in aquifers, lakes and rivers

of water in aquifers, rivers and lakes is accessible

Source: Igor Shiklomanov's chapter "World Fresh Water Resources"

The Water Scarcity Challenge

“In his Reith Lectures, Professor Sir Martin Rees said that mankind’s actions in this century would determine the sustainability of our future on the planet. The implication is that we must curb pollution, cease over-exploiting natural resources, and learn to live within ecological limits. I believe at the heart of this challenge is how we manage water in the future. Whilst there are on the face of it sufficient renewable resources to meet the needs of a biosphere with say 10 billion humans, we must find ways to allocate water to the beneficial but increasing competing demands made on it. The challenge has local, regional and global dimensions; and meeting it will require approaches which range from management of household demands through to large multi-sector engineering interventions. But perhaps the most pressing need is for society, government and business all to have a deeper understanding of water as “bloodstream of the biosphere” (Professor Malin Falkenmark). Water professionals have a pivotal and key role to play in helping achieve this breakthrough."
- Michael Norton MBE

Expertise - About Michael Norton

“I first met Michael more than twenty five years ago during my early days in Halcrow and I was able to witness how he greatly inspired the international footprint of the water and waste water sector of the company, in particular the water business in Latin America and Argentina for which he always showed very high commitment and support. At that time, he had an early and pioneering vision of the importance of working with knowledge and resources across international barriers whilst at the same time providing leadership and key technical insight for several important projects. But it was just a few years ago when Michael embarked on the development of the Sanitation and Drainage Master plan for Montevideo (Uruguay) acting as Technical Leader for Sanitation and Drainage, and since then I had the great opportunity to meet again and work side by side with him and capitalize all of his expertise as an international player for the water and sanitation sector.  Since the beginning of the project, Michael started to play an important role bringing many international experiences and references, and fundamentally a vision on how a water and sanitation company could operate in the twenty first century. Michael’s fluency in Spanish permitted him to engage and develop an excellent relationship with the client who has trusted and valued him highly. His contribution to the project has been wide ranging, helping to build the key conceptual pillars of the master plan; from asset management principles, the importance of secondary treatment prior to outfall discharges, the need to significantly reduce and treat combined sewer overflows and lastly he introduced the concept of adaptive planning, proposing visionary future system architectures for Montevideo, a city which hopes to moves towards sustainable water management and green city principles. A real pleasure to enjoy his professionalism and friendship”
-Dr Rodolfo Aradas Former Technical Director Halcrow Group Ltd and Professor at University of Buenos Aires

Michael Norton has over 40 years of professional experience in water management and engineering, working with international, private sector, public sector and government organisations, in addition to NGOs (non-government organisations) and IFIs (International Financing Institutions).

With experience of leading major water studies and projects in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, Michael’s technical interests include water scarcity, water security, the principles of virtual water and water footprint, sustainable wastewater treatment and the water-food energy system.

Michael is co-author of the new book "Water Resources: A New Water Archtecture", where he and his co-authors propose a fresh approach to the integrated management of water at conceptual, institutional and physical scales. Read more >

About Michael Norton MBE

Member of the order of the British Empire (MBE)

Fellow of the UK Institution of Civil Engineers (Ex-Chair of Water Expert Panel)

Former Chair of Water Security Programme Advisory Group of the National Environment Research Council

Former Global Director of Municipal Water with Amec Foster Wheeler Environment and Infastructure

Former Managing Director of Water and Power at Halcrow Group Ltd (now Jacobs)

Polenghi-Gross I, Sabol S, Richie S and Norton MR Gravity-Driven Water Storage and Transmission Systems for Urban Centres: Their Visionary Role in Sustainability and Preparation for Climate-Change American Water and Wastewater Association Journal, December 2014

Norton M R "Global Water Security – Pipe Dream or Reality?" UK Institution of Civil Engineers Dugald Clark Lecture, London, March 2013

Norton M R "Water Security: Global and National Perspectives" St George’s House Consultation on the Future of Water, Windsor Castle UK, February 2013

Lane A and Norton M R "New Water Architecture: an Integrated Water Management Model" ICE Journal of Management, Procurement and Law, August 2012 (Winner of the ICE Parkman Medal 2013)

Norton M R "Implications of the UK Water White Paper" ICE and CIWEM Meeting Warrington, UK, January 2012

Norton M R "The potential impacts of Water Scarcity on Food Security" EFFP Annual Conference, London, November 2011

Norton M R "Water Scarcity and Agriculture" Agra Europe Annual Conference, London, March 2011

Harpin R and Norton M R "Global water scarcity – the invisible crisis" IWA Biennial Congress, Montreal, September 2010

Norton M R "The challenge of achieving global water security" The Foundation for Science and Technology, The Royal Society, London, July 2010

Sweaney G D, Gittings C A, Langstraat J W, Norton M R and Stephenson P "Low Carbon Technology for Wastewater Treatment" EWPCA 3rd Annual Conference, 2009

Norton M R "Water Scarcity……the world is watching" Engineers Australia Eminent Speaker Series, Melbourne, October 2009

Biddle C R, Dongfang L, Norton M R, Brown A C "Waste Stabilization Pond (WSP) and Constructed Wetland System (CWS) Combinations for Advanced Wastewater Treatment" Envrio 04 Conference, Sydney, April 2004

Johnstone D W M and Norton M R "Development of Standards and their Economic Acheivement and Regulation in the 21st Century" CIWEM Millennium Conference, Leeds April 2000

Visit my Linkedin page to view a full list of my projects


Michael offers a range of assessment, management, review and consultancy services, which reflect his expertise and professional interest in water resources, water supply, urban water, wastewater and the environment.

Michael's Water Management Model (right) shows his concept of how engineering and management is a pathway from water scarcity to water security.

Engineering and Management Services:

Michael’s expertise covers strategic planning, feasibility studies, design, supervision of construction and post completion evaluation of water projects.

Services include:

  • Assessment of water resources availability at national and river basin scales,
  • Assessment of the role of virtual water in national economic domestic and trade policy,
  • Development of water management policy and regulatory frameworks,
  • Holistic water management planning for nations, river basins and water administration entities,
  • Technical review of water capture, transmission, treatment and distribution systems,
  • Technical review of wastewater collection and treatment systems,
  • Technical due diligence for prospective investors in water infrastructure and its management,
  • Review of water resources management plans,
  • Evaluation of the current and potential role of water in national economic growth planning.

Business Consultancy Services:

Michael’s expertise covers development of consultancy business strategies
and evolution of competitive bids for new business.

Services include:  

  • Development of strategic growth plans for engineering and environmental consultancy companies
  • Development of win strategies for competitive bids, including facilitation of workshops and "red reviews"


Michael’s expertise covers strategic planning, feasibility studies, design, supervision of construction and post completion evaluation of water projects.

Peru: Technical Advisor for Lima Water Supply Project

Expert Advisor working with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) who are financing and structuring advisor to the Government of Peru on a project to bring a new water supply of 5 m3/sec to the capital city Lima. Services are related to the review of previous hydrological and engineering studies, assessment of physical risks, appointment of technical and environmental consultants, and development of PPP bidding structure.

Serbia: Technical Assistance for Veliko Selo (Central Belgrade) Wastewater Treatment Plant

Expert Advisor working with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) who are financial advisor to the City of Belgrade on a project to provide a new trunk sewerage system and wastewater treatment for the central area of Belgrade. Services are related to the review of pre-feasibility studies for the wastewater treatment plant (1,200,000 population) and the process of selecting an appropriate framework for inviting tenders to design, build and operate the plant.

Uruguay: Wastewater and Urban Drainage Master Plan for Montevideo

Expert Advisor and report author working with consultants CH2M, Artelia and CSI for client Montevideo Municipality. Diagnosis of current wastewater and urban drainage systems and development of long-range vision, objectives and strategy. The assignment includes a historical review of urban drainage evolution and practice and latest techniques.

Panama: Technical Assistance for Caimito Wastewater Treatment Plant

Expert Advisor working with the Inter American Development Bank, lender to the Government of Panama for a project to provide a new trunk sewerage system and wastewater treatment for the cities of La Chorerra and Arraijan. Services are related to the feasibility study for the Caimito Wastewater Treatment Plant (600,000 population: 2.7 m3/sec) and the process of inviting and assessing tenders to design, build and operate the plant.

Panama: Technical Assistance for Panama City Wastewater Treatment Plant Extension

Expert Advisor working with the Inter American Development Bank, lender to the Government of Panama for extensions (providing treatment to a flow of 2.75 m3/s) to the Juan Diaz Wastewater Treatment Plant. Services are related to the process of inviting and assessing tenders to design, build and operate the plant, and include review of the tender documents and subsequent clarifications and amendments, followed by review of the technical and financial evaluations of the tenders.

Peru: Mapping of Global Financial Instruments Applicable to Water Investment

Expert Advisor working with Spanish consultancy INCLAM and the Global Green Growth Institute, reporting on financial instruments in the area of investment for water interventions. The instruments include traditional public and private sources together with newer approaches including bonds, CESR, biodiversity offsets, and adaptation funds. An initial assessment of the applicability of the instruments in Peru was made, across a range of types of intervention.

International experience

Experience of engineering and water management in Antigua, Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, UK, USA

Chile: Water Company Due Diligence

echincal due diligence of water companies ESVAL and EMOS for Government of Chile. Project Director with Halcrow Group Ltd (now CH2M Hill) for the review of asset condition and performance, and of long range investment plans for water companies serving 2 million and 5 million people.

Honduras: Puerto Cortes Waste Water Treatment

Project Director with Halcrow Group Ltd (now CH2M Hill) for the Municipality of Puerto Cortes and the Inter American Development Bank, to complete the feasibility study and detailed design of a wastework treatment plant for 50,000 people. This facility uses natural processes based on wastewater stabilisation technology, with almost zero energy cost.

USA: Water Expert Advisor to San Francisco Public Utilities

Advisor to the General Manager on water scarcity and water sustainability. SFPUC faced a challenge through public ballot, aimed at taking down the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite, its principal source (1100 Ml/d) of supply. Michael working with Amec Foster Wheeler provided technical support to the successful rebuttal of the ballot and subsequently is providing advisory services on long range challenges and opportunities.

Tanzania and Peru: Hydro-economic Analysis of Water Sector

Project Director with Amec Foster Wheeler for national level studies to prioritise water investment, for the 2030 Water Resources Group. The Governments of Tanzania and Peru sought assistance from 2030 WRG to identify where and how to invest in water interventions with the objective of maximising economic benefit whilst protecting valuable ecosystems.

Switzerland and UK: Innovative Water Partnerships

Team member in the development of concepts for bringing together new partnerships around water. The report was published for the January 2010 meeting of the World economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

UK: Effluent Re-use Expert Panel

A two stage advisory service to the Board of Thames Water on approaches to effluent re-use as a means to augment water supplies. In the first phase an International Expert Panel (IERP) was established with Michael Norton as Chair. It reviewed practice in USA and Australia and advised Thames Water on its approach to effluent-reuse. In the second phase the IERP worked with Amec Foster Wheeler on a review of the detailed studies being carried out by Thames Water into the potential of a 150 Ml/d scheme at Beckton in London.

UK: ICE Report on "State of the Nation - Water"

Michael Norton was Chair of Steering Group for a report commissioned by the Institution of Civil Engineers on the current status of water resources and water supply in UK. The report assessed water resource availability, water supply capacity, and water demands from domestic, industrial and agricultural users. It went on to propose measures for the UK to become water secure by 2025.

UK: Effluent Re-Use Potential in UK

Project Director with Amec Foster Wheeler for a research study into the potential of effluent re-use for water resources in UK, reporting to the UK Water Industry Research organisation (UKWIR). The first phase gathered data from worldwide sources on current practice. The second phase is looking at the implications for the UK regulatory framework.

USA and UK: Charting our Water Future

Technical Adviser on a report commissioned by the Water Resources Group 2030 and the  World Bank’s International Financing Corporation (IFC). Lead author’s McKinsey. A global assessment of water scarcity and presentation of the cost curve tool for prioritisation of water sector interventions to close the supply-demand gap.

Water Resources: A New Water Architecture

Over 7 billion people demand water from resources that the changing climate is making more and more difficult to harness. Water scarcity and shortage are increasingly common and conditions are becoming more extreme. Inadequate and inappropriate management of water is already taking its toll on the environment and on the quality of life of millions of people. Modern water professionals have a duty to develop sound water science and robust evidence to lobby and influence national and regional development policy and investment priorities. We need to be bold and brave to challenge the status quo, argue the case for change, and create a New Water Architecture.

Water Resources: A New Water Architecture takes a unique approach to the challenges of water management. The stress caused by our desire to live, eat, and consume is examined in the context of Governance, the role of policy, and the commercial world. The authors share their nine–step vision for a New Water Architecture.

Written by three industry practitioners, this book provides students, young professionals, policymakers, and those interested in the sustainability of our natural resources with a pragmatic and compelling perspective on how to manage the ultimate resource of our time.


“Michael Norton is without question one of the finest Engineers and Project managers in his sector of his generation, is a man of exceptional integrity and a human being with a heart and generosity of spirit that is second to none. I had the great honour of working in the same business as Michael for a number of years and am full of nothing but admiration for him, his team and the amazing work they did”.
- Ken Foster Former Director Rail Tunnels and Aviation at Halcrow Group Ltd.
"Michael has been a leading international ambassador for sustainable water management for many years. Through my work with him at NERC on the Water Security Knowledge Exchange Programme, he demonstrated measured and responsible leadership and was clearly a global champion for thinking about water and working with water in refreshingly holistic ways. Michael is one of the few truly principled thought-leaders in the UK water sector to emerge in the last 10 years."
- Mark Fletcher Global Water Leader, Arup
"Michael, as chair of the NERC Water Security Knowledge Exchange Programme Advisory Group, played a significant role in ensuring that the aims and objectives were delivered. Firm guidance, a supreme knowledge of the private ‘water sector’ and its needs coupled with a broad understanding of research requirements and capabilities are qualities that are difficult to find for such a role and so we were lucky as Michael delivers all of these. He offered me, as Programme Lead, unstinting help through tricky politics and always gave invaluable advice and support.
- Professor Alan Jenkins, Water and Pollution Science Director, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK
"Michael Norton has contributed his consummate expertise and extraordinary character to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the third largest municipal utility in California, and a major department of the City and County of San Francisco that provides retail drinking water and wastewater services to San Francisco; wholesale water to three Bay Area counties; and green hydroelectric and solar power to San Francisco’s municipal departments. For over four decades, Michael has been performing extensive studies of water systems worldwide, California and the Bay Area among them, and has been a keen supporter of our Hetch Hetchy Regional System, extolling its delivery of clean energy and clean water at a very low cost.  In fact, he showcased Hetch Hetchy in a paper he co-authored, “Water Storage and Gravity for Urban Sustainability and Climate Readiness”, that was published in late 2014 in the highly-respected Journal of the American Water Works Association.  In recent years, we were able to engage Michael under an expert contract to observe our agency, and meet with executive and project staff, and help us shape new initiatives for the present and future.  He deftly provided guidance on pathways for a sustainable 21st century; presented ways in which we could enhance our leadership, such as the hosting of conferences on important topics such as water scarcity; and provided ideas on outreach and informational exchanges with water utilities nationally and internationally.  We utilized Michael’s tremendous and dynamic services while he was an executive at Amec Foster Wheeler.”
- Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
"I have had the pleasure to work with Michael Norton since 2008, where he was a member of the World Economic Forum Water Initiative’s network of Strategic Water Partners.  Michael’s passion and extensive insight and experience in the water sector were valuable assets during the Forum’s incubation of the 2030 Water Resources Group, and again during the analytical work that was undertaken in country partnerships."
-Alex Mung, Head of Water Initiative, World Economic Forum

"For its Water Resources Management Plan 2014, TW appointed an independent panel of recognised international experts in the field of water quality and reclaimed water to independently review the work the company had undertaken on wastewater reuse as a future water supply option for London.  As Chair of the Independent Expert Review Panel, Michael undertook a first class role in ensuring there was a balanced discussion amongst the experts of the very complex and sensitive issues so that each member of the Panel was able to articulate their views in an open and amicable environment.  TW considered that the final report produced by the independent panel of experts was a robust, well balanced document which exceeded its expectations and critically delivered on its prime objective of being an independent review of TW’s work.  The success is no doubt due to Michael’s skilful role in chairing the Panel to ensure the optimum outcome for a potentially difficult and sensitive project.”
- Chris Lambert, Water Policy and Strategy Manager, Thames Water

More about Michael Norton

In addition to his engineering, management and consultancy experience, Michael regularly makes contributions to the field of education through the development of water awareness programmes for the public, private sector, and schools, and as a chairperson for water advisory groups and technical panels. He was former Chair of the Water Security Programme Advisory Group of the National Environment Research Council. He is Research Collaborator at Bristol University, served for 3 years as Professor Associate at Brunel University, served for 3 years as Chair of Programme Advisory Committee at Cranfield University School of Water Science, and is a visiting lecturer at Oxford University School of Geography. His contribution includes his presentation of leading papers at national and international forums on water security. He is Visiting Industrial Fellow at Bath University, served as Research Collaborator at Bristol University, served for 3 years as Professor Associate at Brunel University, served for 3 years as Chair of Programme Advisory Committee at Cranfield University School of Water Science, and was a visiting lecturer at Oxford University School of Geography.

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