Whilst we may believe that drainage systems sit in the realms of engineers and water utilities they can also create a green urban oasis that improves community health, provides outdoor learning opportunities, adds value to property and deliver wider social benefits.
Sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) are a way of managing surface water. In cities and towns they mimic the way that nature manages water; helping to reduce flooding and pollution. SUDS use a number of techniques. generally based on natural drainage features to collect, treat, store and then release storm water slowly into the wider environment. They include swales, green roofs, basins, pond and wetlands as well as more engineered options such as below ground storage and permeable surfaces.
This year BITC has undertaken a feasibility study on the benefits of retrofitting SuDS in schools across Greater Manchester. The results show that retrofitting SuDS can be very cost-effective, within relatively short pay-back periods.
A SuDS retrofit programme in schools across greater Manchester would payback the investment within 3-5 years and would deliver benefits to health, education, property value and other social benefits with an associated value of up to £65million over a 10 years. In addition, there would be significant benefits in reduced flood risk and improved water quality. SuDS can provide a cost-effective solution to a series of urban challenges including resilience, green spaces and community health. They deliver both environmental and social benefits within a cost effective model.
As a society, the challenges we face are increasingly complex. We should not have to choose between improving health, investing in education or protecting the environment. We need to identify solutions that provide multiple benefits, delivering both environmental and social benefits to communities.
To find out more on how SuDS can support resilient cities and resilient communities read our report Water Resilient Cities
Kate Spooner is BITC’s Head of Water. She works with companies to provide innovative solutions to UK water challenges, including supporting healthy ecosystems in river catchments and minimising water risks in cities.