Michelle Ringland of Lanes for Drains looks at the effect society and technology is having on drainage, and what that means for future urban developments.


he UK’s drainage infrastructure is under more pressure than ever. With an ever-increasing population, poor

waste disposal habits, urbanisation and heavy seasonal rains, our drainage systems face many new challenges. Elements of the UK drainage network have been in place since the 1600s, and as such, repairs and upgrades are needed on an almost constant basis. Part of this maintenance inevitably involves digging up roads, pathways or even digging underneath buildings. According to a study published by the Association for European Transport in 2010, the economic impact of roadworks was calculated to cost around £750m a year. With 600,000 instances of roadworks a year in London alone, roadworks not only test time and patience, but are also damaging to the UK economy. Thankfully, innovations in the way that we dig have resulted in ‘trenchless technology’, a term that refers to the replacement or rehabilitation of underground sewage utilities without the need for excavation or disrupting busy roads. In particular, Cured- In-Place Piping (CIPP) UV lining technology can rehabilitate sewers and pipes ranging from 225 mm to 2,500 mm in diameter. It involves inserting a pipe liner layered with a special resin into the sewer or a drain. The liner is then turned inside out and forced through using water or air pressure. UV radiation is then used to dry the resin in the pipe, which binds to the inside and hardens. Reducing the disruption of a typical pipe or sewer rehabilitation, using this method sewage under housing developments can now be repaired without the need to dig up entire streets. Occasionally, pipes, culverts and other parts of our sewerage network become



damaged from overuse or incorrect use. Fatbergs – blocks of congealed fat and wet wipes are a major issue – and one of the main source of problems with our underground sewerage network. Hunting for them has traditionally been difficult, meaning excavating the area’s surrounding pipes and visually inspecting them. That was until a cutting-edge technology that mimics bats’ echolocation to map out piping underneath a housing development in around 10 seconds. SewerBatt can be operated by one person, is lightweight, easy to deploy and the user doesn't need to enter the sewers to perform the survey. A speaker-like device is lowered into a manhole, where the operator plays a high-pitched tone for 10 seconds. It reverberates for several hundred metres along the pipe and then is picked up by a microphone within the speaker. Its software analyses the echo generated, detecting cracks, blockages and structural defects. It can be used in conjunction with CCTV surveys to speed up surveying of sewerage utilities, as workers will no longer need to visually survey each part of the sewerage. The tool can provide HD quality visuals on damaged piping and sewerage to help housing professionals identify issues and determine next steps.

Urbanisation and intense seasonal rainfall brought about by climate change has

increased the likelihood of localised flooding in conurbations such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. With Britain gripped by a housing crisis, and pressure on the Government and local authorities to build housing quickly, it is now more important than ever to follow guidelines laid out for sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) and not cut corners on solutions.

SuDS comprises guidelines, procedures and principles used to deal with distributing excess surface water in a way that attempts to mimic natural processes as closely as possible. They are policies that have been adopted by the UK Government, and are being applied to all developments in the UK. SuDS are designed with three specific objectives in mind:  To improve the quality of the run-off (rain water)

 To control the quantity and rate of run-off from a development

 To enhance the conservation, landscape and amenity value of the site SuDS are particularly important for housing developments and large urbanised areas. In natural environments, rain falls onto permeable surfaces, such as soil or grass, and soaks into the ground. With concrete and other non-natural surfaces, natural infiltration is limited, leaving water on the surface. This is an issue because urbanised areas are susceptible to flash flooding if adequate drainage is not implemented. SuDS can be cost-effectively designed to work with retained natural features such as ponds, ditches, or rivers. In this way, they can contribute towards an attractive scheme that enhances conservation and value of the development. With housing at the top of the agenda in the UK, SuDS have gained new significance. And for housing development professionals, it is essential to consider including them in future developments.

Michelle Ringland is head of marketing at Lanes for Drains

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