Prioritise water management, says industry

Concluding an article on water sensitive urban design (WSUD) in the Guardian in April 2013, Sue Illman highlighted a telling survey of built environment professionals published in March…

Questioned as part of a report by CIRIA on the same subject, 83% of the survey’s respondents believe water management is considered too late in the planning and design process of developments.

“We have to start prioritising all elements of the water cycle when designing and developing new places,” the article reports – a conclusion welcomed by Tubosider UK, who are increasingly asked to incorporate recycling and irrigation into their water management systems.

“We already know, for example, that sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) – the creation of ponds, wetlands, swales and basins that mimic natural drainage – can be a cost-effective way to prevent surface flooding while creating valuable public amenities,” says the article.

“But we need to go further than SuDS and start joining the dots between flood risk management and water resource management, and start putting water at the heart of discussions about what makes places great to live.”

This is what is meant by WSUD, a process of looking at how, for example, we could be holding on to more of our flood water for reuse in meeting demand for drinkable water, while at the same time taking the pressure off existing infrastructure by reducing the amount of water entering the sewers.

And a fundamental part of a water sensitive city is that we integrate the design of those features into the fabric of our towns and cities as attractive livable landscapes. WSUD can be applied at all scales, from a single house to an entire city, and it can be retrofitted to existing developments as well as built in from the start.

What we need, concludes the article, are policies that see this thinking being adopted in every local plan and a commitment from the government to a comprehensive water management programme for the UK.