In an era in which flooding is becoming increasingly common, how do we ensure that new developments are designed for the challenges ahead? Abertay water system engineers have been working on it.
Although Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) have been a requirement for new housing developments in Scotland since 2008, the lack of guidance around how to implement these systems has limited progress.
SuDS involve a radical new way of addressing drainage. By mimicking natural drainage, they reduce surface water flooding, lead to improved water quality and provide biodiversity benefits. Abertay has been at the forefront of research on the subject since the mid-90s, and has produced world leading experts in the field.
Professor Joseph Akunna, of Abertay’s Natural and Built Environment Division believes that with the right training and guidance, local authorities and developers will be able to use the technology to its full potential.
He said: "Councils, road builders and house building companies need clear guidance on designing, building and maintaining SuDS."
"The different design elements involved and the fact that it is still relatively new means that there is a need for access to expert advice."
"Councils, road builders and housebuilding companies need clear guidance on designing, building and maintaining SuDS. There is a need for access to expert advice."
There was a clear need for a manual containing the most up-to-date research, best practice and guidance.
With its internationally recognised research in urban water systems, Abertay was selected as the lead partner in the Scottish Centre of Excellence on SuDS. The research, carried out by the Centre - much of which took place at Abertay - was used to develop the CIRIA SuDS design manual.
In addition to its key role in developing the guidance on SuDS, Abertay has trained more than 1,500 people from local authorities and businesses on implementing the technology.
“This project provides an example of how our expertise, based on our research, can be used to develop training for businesses and other end users,” said Professor Akunna.
"We accessed high quality and professional services backed by the research and laboratory resources of a modern university."
Understanding how systems are working in practice is an essential part of developing improvements and innovations for the future. The University also has several SuDS monitoring projects to gather this information and inform long-term management of the systems.
Taylor Wimpey – one of the largest British-based housebuilding companies – has used Abertay’s services since the mid-90s.
James Travers, Senior Engineer at the company explained: “The SUDS Box monitoring provided by Abertay University allowed us to access high quality and professional services backed by the research and laboratory resources of a modern university. Their services have helped us to monitor the effectiveness of the proprietary SuDS Box system as a source control unit.”
Abertay University works with a wide of businesses on sustainable environmental systems, offering expertise on:
• Anaerobic digestion
• Sustainable drainage systems
• Wastewater treatment and resource recovery
• Environmental evaluation and decision support
• Modelling and visualisation