Sustainable drainage systems, or SuDS are being encouraged more and more for water management. If designed and managed properly they can deliver a huge range of benefits – they reduce flooding, improve water quality, provide lots of amenity value to people and are great places for wildlife.
They are needed as we have sealed urban areas with hard impermeable surfaces – concrete, buildings and roads. We’ve drained and dredged and strained and piped natural watercourses and have radically altered the natural hydrological cycle, turning our urban rivers into polluted trenches that people treat as dumps. As a consequence the system can’t cope and we’re subject to flash flooding which is devastating for people and their lives and their homes.
SuDS are ways of putting back into our living and working spaces the natural way of things. At the top of a natural catchment you have lots of lovely woodland and spongy grassland that holds and cleans water before releasing it slowly, and SuDS mimic this. On farmland small-scale earthwork systems can treat farmyard run-off and prevent nutrients reaching sensitive wetlands. Water can move water through grassy conduits called swales which are great habitats for invertebrates, wild flowers and amphibians but also help to move the water slowly to the ponds and other wetlands at the bottom of the system which are great places for wildlife and for people to enjoy. In our towns they can also include green roofs and rain gardens.
The Wroxall Wetlands Project is working with local farmers to create Sustainable Drainage Systems.
The Susdrain website is full of useful resources on Sustainable Drainage.
For a really good guide on maximising the potential of SuDs for people and wildlife click here