London, the Supersewer and SuDS – The Great Debate

Written By: European Sales Director, Hydro International

Aerial Photo of the River Thames

London’s ‘ Supersewer ’ has provoked much controversy and – whether you are in the Tideway Tunnel ‘yes’ or ‘no’ camp – a compelling debate about the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems in even the most challenging urban settings.

A thought-provoking new paper by Prof Richard Ashley – a regular contributor to Engineering Nature’s Way – lays out the arguments and far-reaching potential for SuDS and Green Infrastructure in big city settings.

The article has been posted on the website of the Clean Thames Campaign, ahead of this week’s official announcement of the Government decision on granting planning consent to build the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Whatever your views on the Tunnel, the article makes some great points about the advantages of using SuDS as source control and for treating rainwater as a resource to be harnessed, rather than a waste product to be treated and disposed of. The principles are just as valid for every major conurbation from Helsinki to Cape Town – it just depends how bold you want to be. Both Prof Ashley and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson have pointed to the shining example of the City of Philadelphia in applying these principles.

Writes Prof Ashley: “WSUD, SuDS, green infrastructure and multi-valued, multiply beneficial, multi-functional land use in urban areas increases sustainability, liveability, amenity and biodiversity. A major benefit of these systems is their flexibility and adaptability in regard to uncertain futures.”

A little later in the article he says:

“Sadly, despite the invective from the Mayor of London that he wishes the City to be the greenest in the world, he fails to understand that stormwater is a resource and an opportunity to irrigate the new green infrastructure and offset London’s demand for water.”

So while Mayor Boris Johnson has flagged the potential of SuDS and Green Infrastructure (See my blog SuDS are Good News for London – says Boris) does our capital still have a “love-hate” relationship with SuDS?

Read Richard Ashley’s article: It was good enough for the Victorians: We know it works and let us know your views.


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