Sustainable Drainage

Assessment of potential for large scale implementation of sustainable drainage systems in the South West

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) have been around for a while, but are underused, despite obvious benefits. The concept behind SuDS is to mimic natural drainage systems as closely as possible, collecting, storing and cleaning the water using sustainable methods before releasing it back into the environment.

Prof. Guangtao Fu and Impact Fellow James Webber from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems led the multi-disciplinary team that worked on this project with a range of partners from industry. The project looked at the possibilities of large-scale implementation SuDS across the South West, for example, by designing SuDS alongside new housing developments.

Our Partners

Consulting engineers Pell Frischmann were closely involved, along with Westcountry Rivers Trust. Their aim was to develop an innovative methodology and tools that could be used to inform strategic level planning decisions in the South West. This is helping key personnel to prioritise and implement SuDS more effectively. The associated costs and benefits (eg reduced flood risk, improved bathing/shellfish/river water quality, improved amenity, environmental impact) are being assessed for their potential for large scale implementation across the South West region.

Surface Water Management

Surface water in the South West is still managed largely by conventional sewer systems. This, coupled with increasing population, urbanisation and climate change, puts additional pressure on the existing sewer infrastructure, reducing its capacity to manage surface water run-off effectively. The excess surface water contributes to increased risk of flooding and pollution, having a negative impact on the environment, bathing waters, shellfish waters and rivers.

Sustainable Drainage
Project Code: 006
Project Lead:
Dr James Webber
SWEEP Impact Fellow

James is an Impact Fellow working on the SWEEP Sustainable Drainage project, exploring the potential for sustainable and resilient surface water management in South West UK.

James has been based at the University of Exeter since 2014, where his research has focused on developing and applying novel rapid flood modelling techniques in collaboration with academic, government and industrial stakeholders. Before this, he worked as an environmental engineering consultant on a range of UK and international urban water management projects.

Prof. Guangtao Fu
SWEEP Engineering Lead