New Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) Position Statement live

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Built Environment, Flooding, Management & Regulation, Waste & Resources

New CIWEM Sustainable Drainage Position Statement urges no loss of government commitment and greater leadership

Floods, drought, nature decline and polluted water running off our land are growing problems in the face of climate change, development and land use change.

Part of the solution to all these challenges, particularly (though not exclusively) in the urban context are Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). SuDS mimic natural processes and reduce flooding – particularly surface water flooding associated with sudden downpours – by managing rainfall close to its source and wherever possible at, or near the surface. By building in rain gardens, permeable paving, green roofs, swales, soakaways or ponds, SuDS slow, store and treat water that could cause damage.

Alongside flooding, we also face increasing pressures from road runoff pollution and sewage pollution of rivers from storm overflows that are exacerbated by climate change and development. Well-delivered Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) can help respond to these challenges, build climate resilience, enhance urban beauty, improve air quality, human health and wellbeing, and contribute to nature recovery.

CIWEM’s new Policy Position Statement on SuDS includes ten recommendations to improve SuDS implementation in England and an overview of the key issues affecting SuDS delivery.

Two major drivers for improved levels of quality and quantity of SuDS delivery have emerged since 2021: Firstly, Government’s recommendation that Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 should be implemented in England from 2024, enabling improved SuDS delivery within new development.

Secondly, requirements set under the Environment Act 2021,the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan for water companies to achieve significant and progressive reduction in discharges from storm overflows, and statutory Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans. Delivering against these requirements will need considerable increases in large-scale SuDS retrofit programmes in combined sewer catchments.

As these drivers are implemented, we need to see government’s commitment and ambition-levels against the use of SuDS remain and increase. To tackle the wide range of water challenges experienced in this country, we need a far more sustainable approach to drainage.

Thanks to the SuDS and Water Reuse policy leadership group for their input when creating this Policy Position Statement.

Read the Sustainable Drainage Position Statement now.

This article was published on 27 February 2024.

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