Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reducing flooding through sustainable drainage systems >>> Water Sensitive Urban Design in the South-West

There are some innovative ideas on how to plan for the care of water resources: 

Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) is a land planning and engineering design approach which integrates the urban water cycle, including stormwater, groundwater and wastewater management and water supply, into urban design to minimise environmental degradation and improve aesthetic and recreational appeal.[1] WSUD is a term used in Australia and is similar to low-impact development (LID), a term used in the United States; and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), a term used in the United Kingdom.

Water-sensitive urban design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a piece from the consultancy AECOM, which is working with other bodies in the South West on WSUD, the problem seems to be 'significant behavioural change from a number of stakeholders, collaboration is critical to the success of its implementation':

South West takes first steps in water sensitive urban design

Australia’s response to flooding and water scarcity has lessons for the UK in terms of water sensitive urban design – and the South West is going to try them out. Tony Barrett explains.
The water sensitive urban design (WSUD) approach to water management was first developed in Australia in response to the water scarcity and flooding issues that plague the country. The effects of climate change and a rising population mean the UK is now facing similar water challenges. Applying a WSUD approach could be part of the solution, but there are important lessons that can be learned from its implementation in the southern hemisphere.
"The collaborative water management vision for the South West is recognition of the need to adopt smarter, more-integrated water-management initiatives across the region"
Properly implemented WSUD provides a raft of benefits far beyond the remit of reducing flooding and creating a secure water supply. The WSUD model integrates all elements of the water cycle, recognising that each component is linked. This holistic approach is a step change from conventional, linear water-management systems, bringing together for the first time the management of rainwater, potable water, wastewater and groundwater.
This integration will increase efficiencies across the water network and enhance the quality of the built environment. A recent study led by AECOM looked at the potential cost benefits of WSUD implementation in Birmingham and Coventry. The findings provided a compelling business case, with benefit values calculated to be more than seven times higher than those of conventional water-management approaches.
Despite such persuasive evidence, the barriers to WSUD delivery mean uptake in the UK is slow. Interestingly, the biggest barrier to the successful delivery of WSUD is not technical in nature. Accountability for implementation does not necessarily lie with one organisation, creating complexities around shared responsibilities. As WSUD will also require significant behavioural change from a number of stakeholders, collaboration is critical to the success of its implementation.
In the South West of England, the water management community has come together to consider a new, joined-up approach to water cycle management. Recognising the potential benefits of WSUD, AECOM is working with a broad range of stakeholders, including South West Water, Devon County Council, Torbay Council, Cornwall Council, Plymouth City Council, Exeter University and the Environment Agency. Working in unison, the group has taken a decisive first step to introducing WSUD by developing a joint vision for the region.
This vision acknowledges that conventional water cycle management approaches alone are not enough to meet the challenges of climate change and population growth in the region. Principally, the vision identifies WSUD as a viable solution for the South West, with the potential to make a significant contribution to the future prosperity of the region.
A regional committee has now been created to establish plans for WSUD implementation. The primary focus in the South West is to work with communities to identify opportunities for WSUD, encouraging them to be more water sensitive and make decisions that will support their future water security.
Although still in its infancy, the collaborative water management vision for the South West is recognition of the need to adopt smarter, more-integrated water-management initiatives across the region. The water management community has made a collective commitment to mainstream WSUD, learning from successful implementation in Australia to place collaboration and engagement at the heart of its development.
Tony Barrett is principal consultant at AECOM’s water practice in the UK

South West takes first steps in water sensitive urban design | Infrastructure Intelligence

Here's the perspective from SWW:

South West Water welcomes collaborative vision for a water sensitive South West

image depicting A sustainable drainage scheme
A sustainable drainage scheme
South West Water has welcomed the launch of the UK's first Water Sensitive partnership, which aims to reduce the impacts of climate change and population growth in towns and cities in the South West.
The partnership for a more sustainable response to urban and rural water management in the region includes South West Water, AECOM, the University of Exeter, the Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council and Cornwall Council.
All the organisations have given a commitment to drive the vision for a water sensitive South West.
Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) is an approach that originated in Australia which focuses on giving a greater priority to water management considerations at the earliest stages of development and regeneration.
It recognises that all elements of the water cycle are linked and provides a smarter, cost-effective approach to resource efficiency and future resilience.
Delivering WSUD can help to reduce flooding through sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) that can include natural vegetation features such as wetlands, swales and rain gardens. It can also save water by securing new water supplies from the rain that falls on urban centres as well as create green, attractive public spaces that provide new wildlife habitats and a healthier urban environment.
South West Water's pioneering approach to managing raw water sources, Upstream Thinking, is now in its fifth year and has started to show demonstrable improvements to river catchments. The water company is also piloting a sustainable drainage scheme in Truro, and has plans for several sustainable drainage schemes in sewer flooding hot spots across the region in the next five years.
The vision document, which was put together by infrastructure services company AECOM following a workshop, outlines the three key actions agreed by the participants in order to transition to a water-sensitive future for the region. These include:
- The identification of WSUD champions within organisations and communities
- The establishment of partnership working arrangements
- The agreement from participants to realise the benefits of water sensitive solutions and show commitment to their delivery.
Andrew Roantree, Head of Asset Management at South West Water, said: "With population growth, climate change and urban creep, there is an urgent need to find innovative ways of preventing flooding and pollution in the future. There are collaborative, low-cost and natural solutions that will reduce flood risk, enhance neighbourhoods, prolong the life of our sewers, and make much better use of the rain that falls on our towns and cities. South West Water is committed to taking this water sensitive approach and working with other agencies to develop these win-win solutions."
Tony Barrett, principal consultant at AECOM's water practice in the UK, commented: "This vision document serves as a turning point in the delivery of WSUD in the South West. There are undoubtedly challenges to the implementation of WSUD. Collaboration, ownership and education are the crucial keys to success.
"The support from South West Water, local government organisations, the Environment Agency and the University of Exeter is essential to the planning and management of an improved urban water cycle and our future resilience. We are delighted that the momentum has been maintained since the workshop with continuing meetings with our stakeholders. It is this type of joined-up thinking that is critical to turn the vision for a water sensitive South West into a reality."
Published: 4 December 2014
Notes to Editors
1. Upstream Thinking is a partnership approach to managing drinking water sources sustainably. South West Water is working with the Wildlife Trusts of Devon and Cornwall, the Westcountry Rivers Trust, Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park, the Environment Agency, Natural England and English Heritage to restore water rich landscapes and river basins. For more on Upstream Thinking go to upstreamthinking.org.
2. For more on South West Water's Downstream Thinking approach to sustainable water management, go to southwestwater.co.uk/downstreamthinking
3. AECOM was instrumental in the delivery of the WSUD approach in Australia.
More information on AECOM and its services can be found at aecom.com.
Press Office
South West Water

South West Water welcomes collaborative vision for a water sensitive South West - South West Water

And yet, SWW have recently been fined for "lack proper vigilance" in an “environmentally sensitive” area:

Meanwhile in Australia:

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