SuDS Manual (C753) Brings Knowledge Up To Date

Written By: Regional Technical Manager, Hydro International UK Stormwater Divison

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The so-called UK ‘bible’ for Sustainable Drainage System design and delivery has been given an important upgrade, bringing seven years of surface water management theory and practice right up to date.

The revisions to the first edition published in 2007 will be widely welcomed by our industry.  I was privileged to be a member of the project steering group consulted prior to the publication of the new CIRIA C753 SuDS Manual.

It is a significant step forward, particularly in the way it has realigned the use of proprietary treatment devices, such as Hydro International’s Downstream Defender® advanced hydrodynamic vortex separator, as a credible and valued member of the SuDS component toolbox.  In the first edition classification of proprietary treatment devices as pre-treatment led to restrictions in the way they could be applied in schemes across the country.

I would urge every consulting engineer and local authority to take note of the updated document, which will no doubt continue to be a seminal reference guide not only in the design of new developments, but also for local planning and lead local flood authorities.  This will aid a common understanding as we interpret and implement schemes locally in the light of the regulations in place in England, Scotland and Wales.

The use of the word ‘bible’ is appropriate, as the leading lights who have championed the use of SuDS are often referred to in almost biblical terms as evangelising a new approach to surface water management and green infrastructure. (That’s not just my view, See CIRIA’s August 2015 Briefing Note).

Over the years, an enthusiasm for ‘soft’ SuDS has come in equal measure with frustration at lack of progress.  Looking to the future, I’m hopeful the more balanced, pragmatic approach represented in C753 recognises that the valuable contribution that manufactured devices make to the SuDS ‘crusade’ – helping bring about a ‘can do’ approach to achieving progress.

Manufacturing and precision-engineered solutions are not the enemies of Green Infrastructure, they can enable it.  A management train of appropriately engineered components can mimic natural drainage paths and processes – as the key principles of SuDS dictate.  The solution could even improve on nature, especially where the ground conditions are unfavourable to infiltration or natural treatment solutions.  That’s the principle behind Engineering Nature’s Way – a phrase which continues to have resonance, I believe, as both a pragmatic and a scientific means to securing progress.

Adopting a more balanced approach to SuDS using the full toolbox of components to engineer in nature’s way can help overcome some of the key barriers that still stand in the way of widespread take-up of SuDS.

In particular, we need to work to define and implement robust maintenance and service approaches for SuDS; in turn this will facilitate adoption and ownership which at the moment is a barrier to progress.

Just as important is the need to change perceptions that land-take and construction cost limitations stand in the way of delivering effective schemes.  By creating precision-engineered solutions using a range of components, developers can achieve the best of both worlds, retaining valuable space for building and still engineering drainage pathways that work as nature intended. It can be done.

CIRIA are to be commended on delivering an excellent document through widespread industry consultation.  Hydro was able to provide explanatory text and illustrations to help with chapters of the manual devoted to proprietary treatment systems and to flow controls techniques.  We are delighted to have made a contribution to the continuing campaign to get SuDS used routinely, not only in new developments, but also being retrofitted.

We’ll continue through Engineering Nature’s Way to provide a platform for discussion and advice, especially about the contribution of manufactured products to the collective knowledge.

The SuDS Manual (753) is collaboratively funded and free to download via the CIRIA website.

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I welcome the updating of this hugely valuable document which will provide the benchmark standard for design and installation of SuDS for years to come.

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