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Throughout the conference a number of themes were repeatedly referred to by speakers and delegates alike.

These are outlined below: Multiple benefi ts

Traditionally the benefi ts of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) have been cited as mainly fl ood risk management and improving water quality. However, the move of thinking towards green infrastructure delivery and integrating surface water management into urban design has led to additional benefi ts being realised. These benefi ts range from water supply, thermal comfort, reductions in energy use, and recreational and quality of life/health benefi ts. Portand in the USA is a great example of this approach (see below).

Integrating Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) – Portland, USA

Portland, Oregon is generally accepted as one of the leaders in SUDS implementation. In its ‘Green Streets’ scheme three design principles are followed:

• The management of storm water runoff both at the source and the surface • The use plants and soil to slow, fi lter, cleanse, and infi ltrate runoff to create cleaner water • The design of facilities that aesthetically enhance the community

Green Streets shows how surface water management measures can be retrofi tted into completely built up areas. Vegetated planters and street and pavement improvements were installed to provide attractive yet functional storm water facilities that provide habitat, slowly release storm fl ow, fi lter pollutants, recharge groundwater and reduce erosion. Wherever possible multi-functionality is embraced by using SUDS to protect homes, act as traffi c calming measures, serve as an educational resource

and provide general amenity.

Through the Clean River Rewards scheme, residents receive reduced or zero storm water charges if they manage storm water on their property.

The whole community has become involved in the scheme with a long-established (10 years) downspout disconnection programme. More than 42,000 homeowners have disconnected downspouts, removing more than 942 million gallons of storm water per year from the combined sewer system. cfm?c=44407

Multiple solutions

It was recognised that there is no ‘one size fi ts all’ solution and often projects include a range of solutions appropriate to the local situation – this might include a mix of disconnection of roof drainage, disconnection of highway drainage, permeable pavements, water butts, alongside educating and engaging with the public.

Partnership working

My view of partnership working is that in the UK we have lesser experience and skill than many other countries and often partnerships are seen as an administrative load and complication. We need to develop the attitude that partnerships are the most effective way to deliver sustainable solutions.

It was apparent at the conference that partnership working will be key to fl ood risk management in the future in terms of planning, delivery and funding.

Community engagement

The National Flood Forum noted that a community that is prepared for fl ooding suffers much less. In addition to this, local knowledge is invaluable to sustainable water management. It was recommended that early engagement with the local community should be sought before decisions have been made, rather than informing communities once a project has been decided.

Engagement often has been an afterthought and seen as a hindrance and additional use of resources. As environmental professionals, we have often thought we know better than people who aren’t professionals and this is the wrong attitude to take.

A holistic and integrated approach

Integration is one of the powerful principles of sustainability and it is clear that the way forward is to take a holistic approach to water management. There is a lot to learn from our international colleagues particularly in Australia and the USA on Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), the process of integrating water cycle management into urban planning and design. We still have a way to go before we see a transition in the UK to a WSUD approach.

The June 2012 fl oods in York

It is clear that the new role of local authorities in delivering local fl ood risk management presents some challenges in terms of resources, delivery and up-skilling of fl ood risk management staff. However, this should be seen as a major opportunity to deliver integrated water management in a way that will also bring multiple benefi ts to the local authorities. This can only be achieved through a long term integrated approach involving partnership working and early community engagement.

Sources and thanks: Lauren Goozee, CIWEM

CIWEM Integrated Water Management Report: current-topics/ water-management/ integrated-water- management.aspx

CIWEM Conference outputs: events/conference- outputs.aspx

Justin Taberham


public sector executive Jul/Aug 12 | 69

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