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Southern Water welcomes government's sustainable drainage plan for developments

Sandra Norval, Southern Water's Future Growth Lead, welcomes new government plan for building developments to include sustainable drainage systems.

You may have read last week's news from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) in which they recommended that new building developments may soon be required to include sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). 

This recommendation is the result of a government review published last week.

The news also means that the ‘right to connect’ surface water run-off to the sewer network will become conditional upon having an approved drainage system in place.

It also recommends that developers must design to eliminate surface water, and water companies must be consulted on drainage system approval decisions. This will help us protect the capacity in our network and reduce additional pressures from storm water entering our drains.

This is something we and the rest of the water sector have been calling for and it will make a real difference.

It will help by reducing the risk of surface water flooding and reduce the pressures on our drainage and wastewater systems. We’d also like to see the government explore options to optimise highway drainage and manage unplanned increases in hard surfaces.

Extra pressure on our combined sewer system comes from increased development or urban creep, meaning grassland and soil that previously dealt with heavy rainfall is lost.

Features like soakaways, wetlands and permeable surfaces as well as more use of water butts, will make a big difference and help slow the flow of rainwater entering the system, reducing the use of storm overflows.

Although storm overflows stop homes, schools and businesses from flooding, acting as temporary release valves when the sewage system gets filled with rainwater, we are committed to reducing their use significantly.

This requires everyone working together, including decision makers in government, and water companies like ourselves, with customers also playing their part.

It’s why we’re continuing to work closely with partners in communities, to slow the flow of rainwater entering our network. Our Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force’s six pathfinder projects are trialling new innovative and nature-based solutions in Kent, northern Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and East Sussex.

We recently announced the news that we will provide 1,000 water butts to homes in Gurnard on the Isle of Wight, following a successful trial in the village of Havenstreet and we are also looking to install SuDS at 47 schools across our region, so we are already making progress in this area. We look forward to discussing this further with government and our communities.

Sandra Norval

Southern Water's Future Growth Lead