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Constructing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) for a Greener Tomorrow

In this article, readers will learn about

  • SuDS, and why do we need them?
  • Benefits of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS)
  • SuDS Working
  • Maintaining and adopting SuDS for the long term
  • Advanced Drainage Systems Sustainability Report Aspects Covered

Do you have concerns about urban flooding and water pollution damaging our environment? It’s time to explore SuDS. These smart, eco-friendly solutions are the key to a greener, cleaner tomorrow in England. 

This article details SuDS, their environmental and social benefits, working, and the need to maintain and adopt them. We will also show you how Urban Water, a leading SuDS consultancy in England, can help you with your SuDS project. Keep Reading!

What are SuDS, and why do we need them?

Sustainable Drainage System drains out rainwater, effectively minimising flood threats and enhancing water quality, amenity and the ecosystem as a whole. Moreover, it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Therefore such means ensure we are considering improved rainwater handling systems. To avoid the use of pipes and drains, we’re using more natural methods, like how water flows naturally.

SuDS include systems such as green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavings, swales, ponds and wetlands. These are made to be part of the landscape and the local climate, as well as offer many advantages to people and wildlife.

Since England has undergone urbanisation, the amount of impervious hard surfaces has increased; this is why we need SuDS. Therefore, there is more runoff that can overrun the sewer system causing flooding, pollution, and erosion in this case due ageing combined sewer systems. These problems are also set to be worsened by the increased frequency and intensity of rainfalls due to climate change.

The challenges we face can be overcome through the adoption of SuDS, which helps in the reduction of the volumes and peak flow of runoff, improving the quality of runoff by removing pollutants, enhancing biodiversity and amenity of urban spaces by creating habitats and green corridors and also increasing the resilience of urban areas to climate change by providing cooling and evapotranspiration effects.

SuDS pond outflow

Benefits of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems in England

Sustainable Drainage Systems can play an important role in addressing urban water as well as environmental issues in England due to the numerous positive impacts associated with them. Here are some of the benefits of sustainable urban drainage systems:

Reduced Flooding Risk

One of the most serious threats for England, especially in the urban areas with impervious surfaces, is flooding which increases the volume and intensity of rainfall runoff. SuDS can also help decrease the flood risk by slowing and holding back excess water, thereby relieving the pressure on the conventional stormwater system and reducing sewer overflows.

Improved Water Quality

Stormwater runoff may have pollutants and sediments that SuDS can remove and thus avoid damaging the surface water and groundwater resources. It utilises natural conditions such as vegetation, soil, and microbes to improve water quality and safeguard aquatic ecosystems.

Enhanced Biodiversity

Moreover, SuDS can increase the biodiversity in urban areas by providing habitats for different plants and animals. Ponds, wetlands, swales and basins that are some of the components of SuDS can support some native aquatic and terrestrial species, enhance connectivity among various green areas and improve water ecosystem quality. Apart from that, they may help to realise the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan whereby nature is restored to be better for the next generation.

Aesthetic and Recreational Value

They can improve the appearance and amenity value of urban areas by developing recreational, educational and relaxed green spaces. They can also increase the value of properties and make the neighbourhoods more attractive places for residents and visitors.

Groundwater Recharge

They increase infiltration and refill the groundwater resources, most times compromised by urbanisation. In addition, groundwater recharge mitigates the effects of excessive groundwater extraction, such as land subsidence and saltwater intrusion.

Climate Resilience

In addition, the Sustainable Drainage System contributes towards reducing the risks associated with climate change, like the high frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events. A recent DEFRA review suggests that mandating SuDS in new developments may save £1.4 billion in flood damages over 25 years.

Community Engagement

Stakeholders like local authorities, developers, residents’ businesses, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can involved in the SuDS. It can foster community engagement and awareness of environmental issues, as well as social cohesion and empowerment in England.

SuDS permeable paving
SuDS permeable paving

How Do Sustainable Drainage Systems Work?

Sustainable Drainage System manages water in a set of steps. When rainwater flows, it goes through these stages so that it does not rush and clean up. These steps can include:

Source Control

This step reduces the amount and speed of runoff occurring near where it falls as rain. This can be achieved through permeable surfaces like gravel, grass, or porous paving blocks; this allows the water to infiltrate the soil. However, alternative measures can also be adopted, such as collection of water which can be stored in tanks and used for irrigation, toilet flushing, or washing. Such source control methods comprise rain barrels, green roofs, water harvesting systems, rain gardens, and permeable pavements.


This entails either eliminating or reducing pollutants in runoff prior to it flowing into a drainage system or water body downstream. Physical, chemical, or biological methods for treating water include filtration, sedimentation, adsorption, and ultimately biodegradation. Pre-treatment measures include swales, filter strips, sand filters, and wetlands.


In this case, the runoff is temporarily stored within the drainage system or on the surface until it is gradually released or re-used for any other purpose. This can assist in abating peak flows and lower the possibilities for floods further downstream. Retention measures like ponds, basins, tanks, and wetlands are some examples.


This step entails promoting runoff to seep into the ground for replenishment of the groundwater. This will help reduce surface runoff and increase soil moisture and water quality. Some infiltration techniques involve constructing soakaways, infiltration trenches, dry wells, and permeable pavements.

SuDS swale inlet
SuDS swale inlet

SuDS is not a universal solution. They should be adapted to each site, for example, soil type, terrain, climate, and land use. Additionally, they must fit into the existing drainage system as well as the surrounding environment. An effective SuDS scheme would address all aspects of the water cycle, including flood risk reduction, water quality improvement, environmental uplift, and social amenities.

How to maintain and adopt SuDS in England for the long term

SuDS need to be adequately maintained for efficient functioning over a long period. The regular activities required for keeping SuDS properly functioning include debris clearance, inspection of structures, repair of damaged parts, and replanting vegetation. The transfer of ownership and liability with regard to SuDS is termed adoption. It typically passes to an authority, like a water company or a local management company.

As it concerns England today, the issue dealing with SuDS maintenance and adoption is rather convoluted. The lack of a statutory framework and national policies on SuDS makes it difficult for stakeholders to practise, as different stakeholders have different roles, interests, and incentives. It may raise barriers and uncertainties among residents, local authorities, and bodies of water companies, leading to inconsistent or inadequate provision of SuDS.

From 2024 onwards, every new build in England will be required to incorporate SuDS as per Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, announced by the UK government in January 2023. This is after DEFRA has reviewed the case and recommended approval of the final decisions concerning scope, threshold, and process. In 2023, DEFRA plans to consult to get information and opinions concerning impact assessment, national standards and statutory instruments, respectively.

Sustainable Drainage Systems Report Contents

Site Assessment

Design Criteria

Hydrological and Hydraulic Analysis

Water Quality

Maintenance and management

Biodiversity and Amenity

Regulatory and Policy Compliance

Economic Assessment

Climate Change Adaptation

Community Engagement and Education

Site Assessment

It includes identification of the geographical location of the site and its local watershed and natural drainage flows, as well as soil permeability assessment as relevant to water management.

Design Criteria

The current urban infrastructure should incorporate sustainable drainage elements like ponds, swales and permeable pavements designed according to specific design criteria.

Hydrological and Hydraulic Analysis

This considers assessing anticipated rainfall and storm strength, estimated flow paths and volumes in the system.

Water Quality

Use of multi-stage treatment as well as introduce control measures to ensure that pollutants don’t enter the system.

Maintenance and management

It involves creating a long-term plan for SuDS component upkeep and assigning maintenance responsibilities.

Biodiversity and Amenity

System integration and strategies for improving the landscape and promoting biodiversity at the local level.

Regulatory and Policy Compliance

Stakeholder engagement in the decision-making process that will meet local and national guidelines.

Economic Assessment

It includes initial implementation costs (capital costs) and ongoing maintenance and operational expenses (operational costs) for the SuDS.

Climate Change Adaptation

Resilience to climate change and assurance of long-term effectiveness.

Community Engagement and Education

Promoting community awareness of SuDS development and management.

Advanced SuDS Report Aspects
Advanced SuDS Report Aspects

Urban Water: A company for designing SuDS in England

Urban Water is one of the most trusted and credible companies that offer Sustainable Drainage Systems in England. We are experienced in designing SuDS according to the current legislation.

SuDS comprises a drainage system which mimics the natural processes to alleviate the problems associated with urban runoff and improve water quality. Urban Water will help you develop an appropriate SuDS design for your site, budget, and objectives. We will provide customised SuDS to meet your development, retrofit project, or even public space requirements. 

Call Us at (020) 3488 8687 or Email Us at to know how we can work with you to design an excellent, sustainable, and aesthetically appealing Sustainable Drainage System.

Future Outlook

Sustainable Drainage System offers an alternative to the flooding and water pollution problems in England. These organic drainage systems mimic natural drainage processes and produce a cleaner, greener tomorrow for England.

In terms of surface water management from planning to construction, Urban Water is the right choice as we develop approved designs by water companies through the use of 3D software for sustainable drainage systems comprising permeable surfaces, ponds, and soakaways.

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Argemiro Rivera, <b>BEng(Hons) MSC CEng MICE MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv</b>
Argemiro Rivera, BEng(Hons) MSC CEng MICE MCIWEM C.WEM CEnv

Passion for Water, Flood Risk & Sustainability
I love to dig into complex flood risk and water engineering projects and deliver them. I focus on delivering reliable flood risk information to protect livelihoods and the environment.

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