Water Conservation - 2

Posted on 2nd March, 2010

Water and Suds.

 “Water levels in our rivers are down by 80% during low water conditions in comparison with 100 years ago” This comment which was made by an angler was discussed in a Foyle Angling Report (http://www.loughs-agency.org/angling/angling_reports

Various reasons were cited as causing this, such as major changes in land use, urban development, drainage, forestry on upper catchments, loss of the ‘sponge effect’ and water abstraction. Among the solutions discussed to combat this was the concept of ‘SUDS’. The comment on low water interests me because I have designed some SUDS solutions for surface water drainage on some new developments recently. Regarding the waterways in our area I can only say that years of agricultural (grant aided) drainage schemes have totally ruined them. I suppose there are other factors involved, such as pollution etc, but I can remember as a boy seeing large salmon taken from our local burn which is only a few feet wide. Then the Water Board (as the Rivers Agency was then known) came along and dredged out the local river and its tributaries and that was the last we saw of salmon (or brown trout for that matter) in our small streams.

SUDS:                       ‘SUDS’ is an acronym for ‘Sustainable Drainage Systems’ or ‘Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems’. Either way, it describes a means of reducing the environmental impact due to surface water run-off from the built environment. There are many ways to slow down, attenuate and filter the water that runs off our roofs, driveways, pavements and roads. By doing this we hold water upstream for longer periods and thereby reduce flooding in downstream, low-lying areas. There are other important environmental benefits and these can be read in further detail at http://www.ciria.org/suds/ .

SOLUTIONS:           I would like to see the Planning Service adopt the principle of SUDS as mandatory for ALL new development including single houses, renovation works and commercial sites, etc. I would hasten to point out that the cost of a well designed SUDS solution can often be much less than that of a conventional surface water drainage system.

To take the idea a stage further, we can often easily incorporate SUDS along with a pond, marshy wetland or bog garden in a suitable corner of our site, and attract some interesting wildlife in the process. Other solutions can include reed beds for effluent treatment, re-cycling ‘grey’ water and using water butts for watering the garden or washing the car (using natural detergents of course).

By using our water wisely before we drain it away, we reduce the load on our fresh water reservoirs.

By the way, who thinks that imposing water charges will encourage the average householder to conserve fresh mains water? – but of course that’s another debate entirely. As usual, feel free to comment below ...

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