A Guide to Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs)

What are Sustainable Drainage Systems, and why is everyone talking about them?

The UK Government introduced a planning policy which asks housing developments to use eco-friendly, sustainable drainage systems. The key aim is to manage surface water run-off as close to its source as possible, reducing the potential impacts and risks of surface water flooding. This has led to property developers adopting the method of SuDS – a natural, environmentally friendly approach to managing drainage.

According to the Institute of Civil Engineers’ latest report, “All plans and designs for new housing or commercial developments should address the issue of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) from the earliest stages. This enables the best SuDS to be delivered to mitigate flooding risk, avoid overloading the drainage network and provide water quality, biodiversity and public amenity benefits.”

What are SuDs?

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are a set of approaches and techniques to manage surface water and take account of water quantity, water quality, biodiversity and amenity.

Using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) is an eco-friendly approach to managing surface water runoff in urban areas. Unlike conventional drainage systems that quickly direct water into sewers, SuDs aim to mimic natural drainage processes. By allowing water to filter through natural systems such as soils, vegetation, and permeable materials, SuDs can reduce the risk of flooding, pollution, and erosion.

The Benefits of SuDs:

  • Flood Risk Reduction: SuDs alleviate the pressure on traditional drainage systems during heavy rainfall, preventing flooding and safeguarding properties and infrastructure.
  • Water Quality Improvement: as surface water filters through natural elements, harmful pollutants are removed, leading to improved water quality.
  • Biodiversity Enhancement: SuDs promote green spaces and encourage the growth of diverse vegetation, providing habitats for different wildlife species.
  • Climate Resilience: by managing rainfall more effectively, SuDs help communities adapt to the changing climate patterns and become more resilient to extreme weather events.
  • Water Resources: SuDS can help to recharge groundwater supplies and capture rainwater for re-use purposes.
  • Community benefits: well-designed public open spaces that incorporate SuDS can create a better quality of life for communities, as well as acting as sports or recreation areas.
  • Education: SuDS in schools provide a practical learning opportunity whilst also creating additional green space
  • Enabling development: SuDS can free up capacity in already established drainage networks.

Types of SuDs:

  • Permeable Surfaces: SuDs utilize permeable materials such as porous concrete, gravel, and grass pavers to allow water to infiltrate the ground.
  • Swales: shallow channels or ditches designed to direct and store water, allowing natural filtration and pollutant removal.
  • Infiltration Basins: depressions in the ground that temporarily hold water, promoting infiltration and reducing runoff.
  • Green Roofs: rooftops that absorb rainwater and enhance insulation, reducing the heat island effect.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: capturing rainwater for uses like irrigation or toilet flushing.

How to implement SuDs:

The Local Government Association encourages the following best practice:

“Good SuDS design should follow the SuDS philosophy, which calls for the inclusion of a number of key principles:

  • A management train: using a number of SuDS components in series and characterising areas into land use and drainage type.
  • Source control: managing runoff as close as possible to where it falls as rain.
  • Managing water on the surface: wherever possible, runoff should be managed on the surface.
  • Early and effective engagement: consider the use of SuDS at the earliest stages of site selection and design.”

Other points to consider:

  • Planning and Design: early involvement of SuDs experts during the planning stage ensures effective integration of sustainable drainage features.
  • Local Regulations: check local regulations and guidelines to comply with SuDs requirements.
  • Community Engagement: educate the community about the benefits of SuDs to gain support for new projects.
  • Maintenance: regular maintenance of SuDs components is essential to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

SuDs information and support in the UK:

The UK Government encourages SuDs implementation through the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Flood and Water Management Act,  Flood Risk Management Plans, SuDS Manual, their latest research on sustainable drainage system techniques, and the SUSDRAIN website.

Managed properly, drainage systems can contribute to sustainable development and improve the places and spaces where we live, work and play. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) are a vital step in creating a more environmentally friendly and resilient urban landscape.

Premier Drainage Solutions has over 40 years’ experience in drainage solutions. If you’d like to know more about drainage systems, or if you have any questions about your property development, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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