SuDS – Sustainable Drainage Systems

Image of rain to accompany blog post on sustainable drainage systems SuDS


As I write this, I’m looking at a 10 day weather forecast for Derby that shows rain, rain and more rain.

Our office at St Michaels on Queen Street is just metres away from extensive new flood defences along the banks of the Derwent.  Climate Crisis is in the headlines and local activists from Extinction Rebellion recently stormed the Council House to demand more action after our City Council declared a climate emergency on 22 May 2019.

Dealing with flood risk, insurance and damage is a problem for our both our residential and commercial property clients.  The commercial property team routinely acts on land purchases for local and regional developers and the question of how to incorporate drainage and flood protection measures remains a key concern.

Historically, development has meant non-porous surface coverings, either buildings themselves or roads, driveways and paving, coupled with piped drainage solutions.  Many of us live in houses served by gravity sewers, but the existing piped systems are often overloaded and are an unsustainable model for the future.

Often new developments are required to incorporate SuDS and we work alongside our developer clients’ technical teams to ensure that the SuDS are documented and the land remains properly managed into the future.


What are SuDS?

SuDS stands for Sustainable Drainage Systems.  The idea is that they manage rainfall in a more natural way, aiming to minimise flood risk but also contributing to better water quality and biodiversity.

Instead of piping surface water straight into underground drains, SuDS replicate a more natural surface water run-off pattern.

Rainfall is often simply captured in swales (artificial basins or hollows, which can be fitted with an infiltration system), so that as much as possible can evaporate, be taken up by plants, or drain via soakaway.  Any overflows are managed into natural watercourses or sewers.

As they are often open and vegetated, SuDS can also contribute to ‘greening’ and biodiversity in new built spaces.


What do SuDS look like?

SuDS can take many shapes; you may have noticed on new development schemes the inclusion of landscaped basins for filtration and detention, ponds, wetlands or soakaways.

Susdrain is a community that provides a range of resources for those involved in delivering SuDS where you can find out more.


Worried about flood risk for your home?

You can check out the long term flood risk assessment from the Government website here.

Buying a home in a flood risk area can mean higher insurance premiums, although you may be paying significantly less for the property itself because of its at-risk status.

You can try to limit the damage caused by flooding by having a supply of sandbags and other flood guards and by taking preventative measures such as keeping valuable furniture and carpets to the upper floors, and locating electrical wiring and sockets higher than floor level.


Help with insurance for flood risk

Our commercial property partner Matt Rice outlined the help available for insurance in his blog of September 2016, which explained how Flood Re works to help homeowners in ‘at risk’ areas.


Post written by Nikola Guthrie
July 2019

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