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.
Source: Igor Shiklomanov's chapter "World Fresh Water Resources"
“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
"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 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 >
Member of the order of the British Empire (MBE)
Fellow of the UK Institution of Civil Engineers (Ex-Chair of Water Expert Panel)
Fellow of the UK Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
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 CH2M Hill)
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
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.
Michael’s expertise covers strategic planning, feasibility studies, design, supervision of construction and post completion evaluation of water projects.
Michael’s expertise covers development of consultancy business strategies
and evolution of competitive bids for new business.
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.
For more information about this publication, please contact us
"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
"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
"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
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. Michael has been an invited expert to present at the World Economic Forum, Engineers Australia, Chatham House, Cambridge University, Westminster Energy Forum, International water Association, Agra Europe, Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, St George’s House and the Royal Society.