Utility company Thames Water has announced that it is funding 20 nature-based schemes to help tackle flooding in London and the Thames Valley through the creation of sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS).
SuDs work by slowing the rate that rainwater runs off into drains and is absorbed by the ground, meaning that the flow of water reaching the sewers is slow enough that it doesn’t flood the system.
Local authorities and schools are among those that have been invited to bid for a share of the £1.8 million being made available to invest in these schemes. A further £1.5 million is also due to be allocated to projects in the second round of funding, which was launched on February 14th.
In total, more than 11 hectares (110,000 m2) of impermeable paving will be replaced – which is twice the area of Windsor Castle. The aim is to reduce the speed and volume of surface water running off from roads and roofs as it enters the sewer network.
This will help to reduce flood risks in the local area, as well as providing additional community benefits, such as improved greenspaces, attracting wildlife and serving as traffic-calming measures.
One project that has already got underway is a new pocket park in Camden, which will provide a relaxation space with trees and plants being watered by rainfall harvested within the park.
And in Lewisham, surface water will be directed away from the sewer network and will flow through a specially created channel in a local park instead, before flowing on into a river.
Eva Linnel from Thames Water’s Surface Water Management Programme said: “Population growth, urban creep and climate change are increasing the risk of surface water flooding, sewer flooding and pollution. Action is urgently needed to stop rainwater, which doesn’t need to be sent to a sewage works for treatment, getting into the sewers in the first place.
“Sustainable drainage systems which replicate the natural environment are key to achieving this, but we can’t do it alone. Working with partners like local authorities is vital. We’re on a learning journey, working with others and listening to their feedback to shape how we can tackle these challenges together into the future.”
The need for SuDs and other strategies to be rolled out quickly has just been emphasised by storms Eunice and Franklin, which have both battered the UK with gale-force winds and intense rainfall for the last few days.
Authorities were told earlier in February that, in London, the biggest flood risk comes from drainage systems being overwhelmed, the Independent reports.
London Councils, which represents the city’s local authorities, was told by a taskforce earlier this month that the greatest flood risk comes from drainage systems being overwhelmed. It also noted that future flooding events are expected to become more frequent – and possibly more intense – because of the climate crisis.