Isle Insights SuDS Drainage: A Sustainable Approach

Discover how you can make a difference in flood resilience and community well-being by participating in the SuDS+ project. Get involved today and contribute your innovative solutions to revolutionize drainage systems.

Isle Insights SuDS Drainage: A Sustainable Approach

In England alone, approximately 800,000 properties are at a medium or high risk of surface water flooding, with this number projected to grow due to climate change and urbanisation. Surface water flooding can, and does, cause significant damage and disruption to communities, and ultimately endangers lives. It’s a sobering reality that underscores the urgent need for innovative solutions in drainage. With an average of £1,400 million of damage experienced in the UK due to flooding1 and as climate change drives increased intensity of rainfall and alters natural water flow patterns, traditional approaches to flood risk management are proving insufficient. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) provide an alternative solution to traditional approaches.

In the battle against flooding and environmental degradation, traditional drainage systems have proven insufficient.

Traditional drainage systems typically refer to engineered infrastructure designed to manage surface water runoff. These systems are primarily composed of a network of pipes, drains, and channels that aim to quickly collect and convey rainwater away from developed areas to prevent flooding and waterlogging.

Traditional drainage systems typically include surface drains and underground pipes, which typically drain into surrounding water bodies or the sewer.

Flooding occurs when rainfall overwhelms and stretches drainage systems past their capacity. Traditional systems often prioritize rapid conveyance of water away from developed areas, which can exacerbate downstream flooding and increase pollution in waterways.

However, there is hope on the horizon in the form of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). These innovative solutions offer an alternative to conventional methods by harnessing nature’s resilience to manage surface water effectively.

What are SuDS?

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) provide a different approach, mimicking natural processes to manage surface rainwater at location, by increasing the capacity for water storage during storm events, reducing surface water runoff and flow rates.

SuDS can include systems such as wetlands or ponds which store water when it rains, green roofs, permeable pavement, and rain gardens.

Some of the potential benefits of SuDS features include increase of biodiversity, helping to create new habitats for plants and wildlife, and increasing amenity such as new community spaces for people to enjoy, like playgrounds, nature trails or community gardens. In addition, comparative costings and cost analysis highlight SuDS can cost less to maintain and can be cheaper to install than traditional drainage systems, whilst providing these wider benefits.

Isle Utilities have recently undertaken a project to implement SuDS. True to our approach, we aim not only to ensure sustainability but also to enhance the well-being of local communities.

SuDs+ Project: Stanleysuds 

SuDS+ has reimagined the benefits of SuDS: rather than prioritising drainage (flooding), SuDS+ aims to prioritise improving quality of life and community spaces, tailoring SuDS to meet the needs of the community. This is by offering multiple benefits, such as those associated with amenity, biodiversity, climate, health, wellbeing, education, housing, jobs and overall community resilience.

The SuDS+ project is running until March 2027 and is led by Durham County Council (DCC), involving nine organisations, and funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes which is managed by the Environment Agency to develop and test new approaches to resilience that are tailored to local communities. The programmes will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.

The local community plays a pivotal role in identifying their needs and aspirations, determining additional benefits beyond flood management. From creating green spaces to providing skills training, the community’s involvement ensures project longevity and success. Isle is a partner on the SuDs+ Project in Stanley South (Durham, UK) which has been revolutionizing drainage through tailored solutions and extensive community engagement.

Empowering Communities

Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) aims to increase the use of SuDS by requiring their inclusion in new developments. This does not include retrofit SuDS, which impacts communities due to the changes to local landscapes, such as in their use and amenities. This provides an opportunity to test how these impacts could be beneficial by directly involving the local community in the design, monitoring and adoption of SuDS to meet their specific, multiple needs.

Community participation lies at the heart of the approach. The local community plays a pivotal role in identifying their needs and aspirations, determining additional benefits beyond flood management, guiding the design and delivery of SuDS interventions, and ensuring project longevity and success beyond the project end.

Unlike traditional approaches focused solely on flood prevention, our SuDS initiatives prioritize holistic community benefits.

Innovative solutions

Each SuDS project presents a unique opportunity for environmental transition, tailored to the specific needs and motivations of the community. By engaging with community members, we ensure that SuDS meet the needs of the local community.

Our SuDS projects extend beyond the UK, drawing on a global network of experts to deliver bespoke solutions for diverse geographical locations. From rewilding initiatives to edible SuDS, the solutions have the potential to enrich communities in multifaceted ways.

It’s essential to recognize that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to drainage challenges. Each area is unique, requiring innovative and strategic approaches to address specific needs effectively. Through community-centred initiatives like the SuDS+ Project, we’re not just solving today’s problems; we’re building a sustainable future for generations to come.

Key Takeaways:

● Flooding affects millions of properties in England, but Sustainable Drainage Systems offer a sustainable solution.
● SuDS prioritize community engagement and holistic benefits, empowering communities to manage flood risk.
● Innovative SuDS projects enrich biodiversity, create social opportunities, and enhance community resilience.

How you can get involved:

As part of the SuDS+ project, we are looking for creative solutions/approaches, at all stages of development and from all sectors globally to address these SuDS+ challenges to design SuDS to meet as many needs as possible and monitoring of SuDS impacts to wider benefits and the local community. If you are interested in being involved in the project, please respond to the call to industry by  26th March 2024.

So if you feel that you have a solution or approach that solves or handles an issue around SuDs please visit or get in touch, we want to hear from you.

For more information about SuDs+ challenges please contact Elizabeth Court.





photo courtesy of SuDS+ project

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