What would you say if I told you that drainage could be beautiful? Severe rainfall events can lead to flooding from rapid
run-off in urban environments. The rapid flow of rain water into combined sewer pipes leads to large volumes of polluted
water which overwhelm an aged drainage infrastructure.
 
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Severe rainfall events can lead to flooding from rapid run-off in urban environments. The rapid flow of rain water into combined sewer pipes leads to large volumes of polluted water which overwhelm an aged drainage infrastructure. This has a financial and environmental cost as all of the water requires treatment and where necessary during extreme rain events, polluted water may be ejected into watercourses. This is currently a huge challenge faced by the UK.  

In natural environments, infiltration allows rain water to drain harmlessly into the ground. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are a way of mitigating these problems because they mimic nature and use natural systems to deal with water. SUDS or WSUD (water sensitive urban design) can be achieved with the use of rain gardens, green walls, green roofs and any areas where de-paving can occur and replaced with green infrastructure. 

SuDs are particularly useful in our cities, where they can be an attractive addition to the existing green infrastructure as well as filtering pollutants and enhancing opportunities for biodiversity by creating habitats for wildlife.

Nottingham has some great examples of SuDS. The University of Nottingham's Jubilee campus is a vast landscape of green infrastructure, replacing what was once an industrial site. The campus has many swales alongside diverse landscaping and man made lakes that provide wildlife habitats as well as forming part of the heating and cooling systems within the campus buildings.

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 SUDS have also been implemented recently in some kerbsides of Sherwood and the landscape design surrounding the headquarters of Speedo makes positive use of rainwater. 

There are significant challenges in the UK to incorporating SuDS into urban landscape design. Legislation is key to informing how SUDS should be incorporated into urban design. Other European cities are leading the way in informing how SUDS should be incorporated at the planning stage.  Efforts are being made by the planning department at Nottingham City Council to encourage a ‘greener’ approach to landscape design in the city and an example of this can be seen at the new outdoor bar at the Pitcher and Piano where we have designed a garden that has involved de-paving the existing surface to create borders and green screens that will utilise rainwater from the surrounding surface.  This design was crucial to the successful planning application for the site. Any project within the city that demonstrates the positive effect of utilising rain water is of benefit no matter how small. It is the job of Landscape Architects and designers to persuade clients to incorporate SUDS within the design stage and how they can assist at the planning stage and afterwards with the clients CSR.