Beat Floods With SUDS

At Greenbelt, we’re serious about protecting our developments – and your homes – from flooding, and that’s why we have Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, or SUDS, on many of our sites.

SUDS are systems of interconnected ponds, swales, basins and zones of specialised vegetation providing temporary storage of the excess rainwater. Greenbelt manages more than 100 sites that feature SUDS across the UK, and they’re instrumental in helping to reduce the incidence of urban flooding.

SUDS efficiently intercept and retain excess rainfall before releasing it back into local waterways, which is done at a limited rate to prevent flooding. SUDS can retain more water than traditional pipe systems, and discharge it at a predefined rate – meaning that local watercourses can easily cope with the system's water output all year round.

Because of their ecological composition, SUDS are very green: a degree of natural filtration occurs while the water is retained, meaning a proportion of the run-off is negated and water departing the system arrives in streams and rivers all the cleaner for it.

“SUDS are an alternative to piped systems that provide many key benefits, including reduced risk of flooding, treatment of runoff from hard surfaces and green biodiversity-rich spaces in new developments,” said Neil Berwick, who assists Greenbelt with SUDS and trains our contractors in their maintenance as part of a service agreement with Abertay University.

Our drainage conforms to what Neil calls the SUDS triangle, the intersection of three factors that they offer: quality (treating pollutants deposited on roads and other hard paved areas that are washed off by rainfall), quantity (reducing flood risk) and the biodiversity and amenity benefits inherent to SUDS that offers potent animal habitats as well as pleasing amenity value to local residents.

SUDS can incorporate source control, the concept of managing water where it lands, for example using infiltration. Where pipe systems would just move the water along, SUDS begins managing rainwater at the moment it falls: swales can be placed strategically to receive run-off from nearby impermeable surfaces like roads, and open ponds and vegetated areas offer temporary storage of runoff and treatment prior to controlled discharge to the river.

“Flooding can have a devastating effect on homeowners,” said Greenbelt CEO Alex Middleton.

“Greenbelt is recognised across the UK as a responsible and effective land management guardian, even when the heavens open and do their worst. SUDS are just one example of our careful and sustainable approach to land management.”

Being comprised of areas of natural vegetation and unobtrusive ponds, SUDS provide an attractive animal habitat as well as an efficient answer to flooding without negatively impacting upon the landscape like traditional pipe systems – many residents don’t even realise that the SUDS ponds are engineered structures, according to Neil Berwick, mistaking them for naturally-occurring features.

“SUDS are integrated drainage facilities that remove surface water in a way that is sustainable and cost-efficient,” said Janet McQuillan, head of operational services.

“Greenbelt manages more than 100 of these innovative systems across the UK and we are at the forefront in the development of new and refined systems”

Because our SUDs are so recognised for the great job they do at taking up excess water and reducing flood risk, they also reduce insurance premiums to homes in the area – meaning that living on a Greenbelt development with SUDS nearby can save you money as well as safeguard your family from flooding.