The benefits of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are becoming increasingly recognised by designers and project developers. By allowing rainwater to soak into the ground through permeable paving solutions, or delaying discharges, they significantly reduce the amount of surface water that runs to sewage systems – mitigating the risk of flooding.

A recent article on Building Talk highlights the necessity of introducing SuDS at the initial stages of planning processes, in order to provide the most effective defence against floods.

There are now a wide range of SuDS methods available to site planners, who need to take into account factors such as local land use, future situations, and the needs of local residents. In most cases, the article notes, a combination of sustainable techniques will deliver the best results for everyone concerned.

Urban solutions

More than 80% of the UK population now live in urban areas, meaning that there has been a huge reduction in the amount of naturally permeable land such as fields.

Traditional approaches include sending surface water to the sewage systems, which can overrun and contaminate the water supply, or creating separate surface water sewers, which has environmental risks if it accidentally connects with the mainline sewer.

The systems are outdated and incapable of dealing with intense periods of rainfall, which can lead to widespread flooding. Furthermore, with an increasing demand for new houses and developers continuing to gain approval for building projects on flood plains, the need for proper flood risk management is greater than ever.

SuDS can solve this problem by helping local authorities, planners, architects and developers to meet these housing demands, alongside demands to deliver 'green infrastructure' by creating green open spaces on developments.

Engaging in these issues early in a project and making use of the solutions can result in better places to live, the article asserts. SuDS can be used in a wide range of spaces, such as car parks, footpaths and verges, gardens, landscaped areas, driveways, courtyards or communal areas.

A new generation of SuDS

The issues surrounding urban development, climate change and increased rainfall aren't likely to disappear; in fact, they are expected to increase. This means that building projects will require proper investment and planning more than ever before.

Manufacturers of plumbing and drainage systems are also taking this seriously, working to meet the demand for what Building Talk refers to as "high performance, low maintenance solutions."

Alongside traditional SuDS techniques, these new technologies include modular rainfall management, geocellular units which can be clipped together to form temporary rainwater storage solutions and geotextiles which allow stored water to seep back into the ground gradually.

Whichever technique is being adopted, the crucial thing is to implement them early into the planning process – developers can no longer afford to view SuDS as an optional element of the design.

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