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Surface Water Management 2017 conference: Removing Barriers To SuDS Implementation

On Wednesday 20th September, GeoSmart’s Director Dr Paul Ellis presented in London at the CIWEM conference ‘Surface Water Management 2017’, which provided an update on the context, scale and impact of surface water flooding, advances in modelling and the key barriers to delivering SuDS.

Paul’s talk was entitled ‘Removing barriers to SuDS implementation; a standard approach and good data is key’.

SuDS are a bit of a grey area and there still needs to be significant regulatory reform and education. Specifically, this means the long overdue roll out of some aspects of Section 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, implementing SuDS.  Guidance on SuDS is often complex, non-statutory and variable across the country. In short, the guidance has no teeth!

We advocate a uniformity of planning approach across England, with a national framework and standard guidance allowing early engagement of developers and planners with SuDS. One view is removing the automatic right to connection to the sewer system and ensuring that surface water runoff is managed on-site, reducing the demand on the public drainage and sewer network and reducing the risk of flooding downstream. Connection to the sewer system should only be as a last resort. Adoption by a local authority or water company is an obvious solution and would provide long term confidence that a scheme would be installed and maintained to acceptable standards. Property owners need to understand the implications of SuDS when they buy a property and their obligations for contributions to the maintain a SuDS scheme.

Developers must address surface water management obligations more seriously – but this needs better data at the beginning.  If soil infiltration data and runoff calculations for SuDS are provided early on, engagement with the planning authority will be more effective. Good data is the answer in combination with a standardised approach that will support cost effective assessment. The objective is always to provide the optimum SuDS design at the master planning stage for minimum cost and support assessment for adoption by water companies and local authorities. GeoSmart offer an innovative range of environmental data that supports assessment of infiltration capacity and groundwater levels for SuDs design. We combine with rainfall, topography and sewer data to provide very cost effective SuDs screening tools in our SudSmart range of reports. A good understanding of the SuDs options based on high quality data, early on in the process will support an increased uptake in SuDs across the country.