One of the greatest challenges for surface water management is the legacy of drainage networks that struggle to cope with the increase in surface water volumes due to increased urbanisation and climate change.
During heavy storms drainage systems can become overloaded, and a lack of capacity in the drainage network can negatively impact on development opportunities.
As urban areas are regenerated and the need to reduce flood risk is recognised, all local authorities should seriously consider the opportunity that retrofit SuDS offer local stakeholders to manage surface water and local flood risk in a different way. Taking this approach means that urban areas are enhanced to create better places to live, delivering a wider range of benefits that previously experienced with traditional drainage systems.
It is important to consider the opportunities that retrofit SuDS provide in helping to regenerate urban environments. Many retrofit SuDS opportunities can be exploited in existing urban spaces if an innovative approach to managing surface water is adapted. However, every community and setting is different, so a range of options must be considered, with urban design central to any implemented solutions.
The incorporation of green infrastructure, intelligent urban design, landscape features and other design features that have multiple functions can help to improve urban areas. Opportunities for shared working should be encouraged, in particular between drainage, highways and urban realm/landscape teams who, when working together, can deliver joint solutions.
Both Defra and Ofwat recognise the opportunity that retrofit SuDS offer, with both organisations encouraging the uptake of retrofit solutions.