Surface water is the UK’s biggest flood risk according to Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan, (pictured) who warned it posed “a real and growing threat” to life, property, the economy and the country.
Speaking at CIWEM Surface Water Management Conference, Bevan said surface water flooding threatened more than three million properties in England – more people and properties than any other flood risk with 2.7 million premises at risk from rivers and the sea. He called for greater efforts to stem growth in that threat that was being stoked by climate change and other changes.
He warned that the risk of surface water flooding was growing as urban populations grew and more development meant fewer places for rainwater to drain safely away. And more frequent and intense rainfall emerging from climate change he said, will make flash flooding and overloading of the sewer network more likely and more frequent.
The 2007 summer floods which left 13 people dead, 44,600 homes flooded and caused £3bn in damage was, he said, “a wake up call for all of us.” That, Bevan said, led to the 2008 Pitt Review, “which concluded that much of the flooding had arisen not from rivers over-topping but from surface water pouring off the land.”
He said the Agency had taken up the Pitt Review recommendation that followed the 2007 summer floods, to improve the use of nature to help manage flood risk through sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) and other green approaches to engineering. “The EA is working with developers, local authorities and the water companies to support the integration of SUDs into as many locations as possible”, he said.
Anglian begins sustainable drainage rollout
A school in Newmarket has become the first in East Anglia to be fired with a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) under Anglian Water’s plan to roll out a series of the such schemes across the region. The plan seeks to combat the “vast amount of hard surfaces in urban areas” by aiding natural drainage to reduce risk of flooding.
Anglian Water said it was proposing a £6.5 billion investment – its largest ever investment programme – between 2020-2025 to tackle flooding, while improving resilience and reducing leakage.
SuDS typically comprise new areas of trees and open land to absorb and slow down the run-off into sewers from roofs, roads, car parks and playgrounds. The same green areas can also provide other benefits including better biodiversity and public amenity.