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Tackling surface water flooding needs pragmatism

Alex Stephenson, calls on the Government to explain exactly what is holding up the implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act.

Renewed urgency in implementing much-needed Sustainable Drainage systems that tackle surface water flooding can be achieved by adopting a more realistic and pragmatic understanding of the techniques available, drainage experts are urging.

As the EFRA committee report on the Draft Water Bill has highlighted, the atrocious weather of 2012 has only served to underline the urgency in tackling surface water flooding to protect homes and businesses. Yet the measures needed were first laid out in the Pitt Review more than five years ago.

I believe misperceptions are to blame for stalling wider SuDS implementation. The idealistic view of SuDS as purely natural, above-ground features is creating fears among developers and contractors that they are impractical and expensive. It seems the housebuilders’ lobby have had a key role in holding up progress of the Flood and Water Management Act.

To stop the deadlock, a wider understanding is needed that proprietary, or hard-engineered drainage systems save land and costs while complementing, enhancing, or occasionally replacing purely natural solutions

Developers must be reassured that they don’t need to give up much-needed development land to meet the guiding SuDs principles of holding back surface water as close as possible to the point it falls, and mimicking natural drainage paths.

Meeting sustainable objectives is fundamental to future drainage infrastructure, but sometimes well-engineered technology can even do better than nature itself in a way that is repeatable, measurable and maintainable.

Tackling misperceptions about the range of solutions available in the SuDs toolbox is a vital element in securing the changes needed.

About Guest Blogger - Alex Stephenson

Alex Stephenson is director of Hydro International UK Stormwater Division and Chair of the British Water SuDS Focus Group

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