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SABs – Almost Here or Have They Already Arrived?

Flowing StreamThe SuDS Approving Body (SAB) role is being reported to commence in April 2014, as indicated in the letter that Richard Benyon, MP sent out to Councils and Local Authorities Chief Executives across the UK on 20th May 2013. In this letter he covered the key roles and responsibilities and included the following statement;

SUDS implementation
I am aware that the extended timetable for commencing the sustainable drainage provisions in the Flood and Water Management Act has been of concern to authorities who will be responsible for implementing them. It is our aim to commence these provisions by April 2014. I understand the uncertainty which the timetable has caused”. – Richard Benyon, MP

We have spoken to many of the Local Authorities and have observed that many of them are already very actively pursuing the implementation of the SAB role, some in fact have already put a person in the position and are gearing up to be ready for next year. New SuDS manuals are being produced and clear plans are being put in place and roles restructured to assist in the future implementation of the role.

Others are holding their breath and waiting till the 11th hour at the beginning of October, to see if in fact Defra follow through and launch the SAB initiative in time for April 2014. If it does go ahead, which many predict it will, we should see an almighty scramble to try to gear up councils for the April deadline.

CIWEM Approved TrainingAlready Arup, Hydro International and Micro Drainage have developed a very comprehensive 2 day SAB training course which has received approval from CIWEM (Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management). This course discusses the requirements of the SAB role and more specifically addresses the practical ‘how to’ aspects using industry standard software. This training is followed up with a free refresher webinar in April 2014 as the SAB roles should be launching.

Other SAB themed training is also available from CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association).

For more information visit


New R&D report on benchmarking the latest 2D models reveals the power of XPSTORM

xpstormXPSTORM performed strongly in the latest round of 2D benchmarking tests conducted on behalf the Environment Agency. This TUFLOW powered, integrated 1D and 2D hydraulic/hydrology software is used extensively throughout the world. The Environment Agency’s latest tests have confirmed that it is a strong newcomer to hydraulic modelling in the UK.

Under the direction of Prof Garry Pender (Herriot Watt University) and Stefan Laeger (Environment Agency), an extensive Research Project has been undertaking on ‘Benchmarking the latest generation of 2D hydraulic modelling packages’ (SC120002). Conducted over the last year, these tests are one of the most comprehensive head to head analyses of 2D hydraulic modelling tools available for use in flood and coastal risk management the UK.

Mr Laeger explains, “2D hydraulic flood models are a vital tool in assessing flood risk and the effects of interventions. They support many vital applications including flood mapping, wider risk assessment and appraisal of options as well as supporting the design of structural measures such as flood defences.

This research produced up-to-date evidence of which hydraulic modelling packages are suitable for which types of flood risk management modelling applications so that Environment Agency operational teams and practitioners can apply available flood modelling tools with confidence.”

FloodingMicro Drainage’s David Fortune commented, “We’re so excited to finally have an accurate reflection of just what XPSTORM can do. We have developed this product over 20 years and it is used extensively elsewhere in the world, but it’s still very new to the UK. We are proud of XPSTORM’s consistent results and this demonstration of its performance against some of the more established brand names in the UK modelling space.”

The report tested a number of complex scenarios to determine the software ‘fit for purpose’ for a range of uses including:  Flooding a disconnect water body, Filling of floodplain depressions, Momentum conservation over a small obstruction, Speed of flood propagation over an extended floodplain, Valley flooding, Dambreak, River and floodplain linking, Rainfall and point source surface flow in urban areas, Surface flow from a surcharging sewer in urban areas, and Run times.

On top of the benchmarking performance, XPSTORM brings seamless integration with Micro Drainage – WinDes (the UK standard sustainable drainage design package).

For the full Environment Agency R&D report on “Benchmarking the latest generation of 2D hydraulic models” visit

For more information on XPSTORM visit

For more information on Micro Drainage visit or call +44 (0)1635 582 555.

About xpstorm:

XPSTORM provides comprehensive hydrology and hydraulics in the same model. It is possible to model the real world including channels, pipes, streets, inlets, ponds, weirs, pumps, catchments, groundwater table, overland floodplains, bioretention areas, infiltration trenches and more. Stable, fully integrated 1D and 2D modelling allows you to see the true behaviour of stormwater flow in natural and engineered systems.

With over 15 hydrologic methods available and numerous ways to input real or synthetic rainfall data, XPSTORM allows users to model the appropriate rainfall/runoff for their project.

XPSTORM fully couples 1D network flow with 2D overland flow to accurately model interaction between surface water flooding and drainage systems, including underground pipes and natural channels.

The 1D engine solves the full St Venant dynamic flow equations to account for the effects of storage, flood backwater and hydrograph timing in stormwater and river systems.

AMP6 and the Water Companies Partnership in Improving Surface Water Management

Water MainI was lucky enough to attend the recent British water annual lunch with our good friends at Water Active. We were privileged to hear from a representative of the Treasury and hear his observations about the AMP5 and AMP6 programs.

Let me precursor this by explaining that I am fairly new to the industry in the UK, having come from Australia the AMP schemes are a little foreign to me (if you’ll excuse the pun). I found it interesting to note the observations made about the schemes and the past patterns of spending. With a slow and careful planning stage at the outset, then a strong and steady period of work in the middle couple of years and then a tailing off as the funds dry up in the last year. Sometimes this was so severe that the observation was that in the 5 year AMP cycle only the middle 3 years saw any of the funding and the rest of the time was spent counting pennies. Whether true or not I can imagine this could be quite an interesting environment to work in historically.

AMP6 is on the horizon and from the early discussions we have been involved with through the water companies it seems this time round there have been lessons learnt. We are already seeing AMP6 framework agreements take shape with plans well under way.

PR14 (Periodic Review 14) has set out new opportunities and challenges that AMP6 will deliver including the benefit to the environment in alignment with the EU Water Framework Directive (EU WFD). PR14 differs from the EU WFD however and covers a range of issues, including;

  • Outcomes rather than outputs
  • Applying a risk based approach
  • Joint outcomes
  • Customer Challenge Groups

The interesting change now of course is the increased accountability placed on Water Companies in relation to surface water management. Gone are the days that flooding was a concern of the local councils and LLFAs alone. Now we are seeing Defra sharing that onus in partnership with the water companies where arguably it should reasonably rest. This shift in ownership has many consultants salivating as their finely honed expertise working with local authorities can now be rolled out to the ‘big boys’ and the scope of the work they are vying for expands exponentially.

The real question is how this will affect the way we approach SuDS and Floods. Everyone is scrambling to meet Defra’s new guidance. We’re seeing SuDS Approving Bodies (SAB) roles introduced across the local authorities (dependent upon announcements in October). Ownership of assets can be as murky as the flood waters that everyone is trying to mitigate, so for the Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) to be held responsible for ‘surface water flooding’ under the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 the depth of collaboration (excuse the pun), partnerships and information sharing has never been as important.

In summary, the way forward will be focusing the water industry to deliver outcomes rather than outputs. This will involve greater collaboration and increased opportunities to deliver environmental technologies, consultation and technical support to ensure greater success and an improved environment for future generations.

“Discharge into river cheapest option”

In one of the many newsletters that find their way into my Inbox, I saw this headline last week and had to read on.

The full article which can be read here describes the Shannon wastewater upgrade project in New Zealand that is comparing several options for discharge of treated human effluent and wastewater. Using all the water to irrigate an 85 hectare farm (already purchased at NZ$4.1m) did not prove cost effective due to the technicalities and high risks. So, a combination of partial irrigation and discharging into the local river, Manawatu River, are now open for public feedback.

It got me thinking that we see similar outcomes with stormwater, whereby what appears as a common sense approach cannot be taken because the costs don’t add up. How can that be so?

In this case it appears as if more checks and balances have to be put in place to prevent a spill of untreated wastewater onto farmland than into our rivers. Do we really value the farmland more than the natural ecosystem that is a river? We talk a lot about multi-benefit approaches and multi-use space. Surely our natural environment is the best example of this. A river provides not only an ecosystem but also amenity value, a resource, a drainage feature and more.

Can it really be more expensive to re-use treated wastewater for irrigation and potable water cleaned to the high drinking water standards in many countries? I am guessing that this is the alternative irrigation option although I don’t know for sure. If not in this particular project we certainly see it in others.

In many cases “green” d15rainage solutions such as WSUD, LID and SuDS are being overlooked because the costs do not add up. When you consider the additional values these solutions provide on an environmental scale, an amenity scale, potential for saving potable water and so on it doesn’t make sense.

So how to move forward? An increase in the cost of potable water? Placing a real value on environmental improvements? And a cost on any negative impacts? Perhaps only then will we see common sense solutions become cost effective. We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Upton Meadows Community SuDS Fair

Saturday’s hugely successful SuDS Fair at Upton Meadows demonstrated the power of community engagement and the true value of SuDS to residents as a public amenity.

Congratulations to the Prince’s Foundation and the University of Northampton for hosting an event which put the local people at the heart of the SuDS experience. With everything from bumble bee surveys and dragon fly trails and a celebrity appearance by TV gardener Diarmud Gavin, the event was a true community celebration.

SuDS Model showing the flow of water over the site.

SuDS Model showing the flow of water over the site.

I was privileged to make a contribution to the days’ events on behalf of Micro Drainage. The effectiveness of broad stakeholder involvement has been a key theme of the Upton Meadows SuDS project from its earliest beginnings and it was good to see representation from so many organisations, including Anglian Water, Halcrow and Aviva.

One definite star of the show was a hands-on SuDS model provided by Herriott-Watt University complete with simulated rain to provide an interactive means for the ‘Young at Heart’ of all ages to try out the effect of SuDS features on water flows in a simulated township.

As a well-established SuDS project there are many lessons we can learn as professionals from the experience of Upton Meadows and in due course, I hope to be able to provide fuller insights and case study material via Engineering Nature’s Way.

Everyone was out to see the science right outside their front door's.

Everyone was out to see the science right outside their front door’s.

Everyone was out to see the science right outside their front door’s.

But for now Upton Meadows belongs to the local residents who turned out in force on summers’ day to learn about the benefits of SuDS to them and how they can make choices to develop and manage the biodiversity and wildlife habitats on their doorsteps.

The swales within the development add an attractive place for the community to enjoy.

The swales within the development add an attractive place for the community to enjoy.

A great day for the cause of SuDS all round.

Retrofitting – restoring the benefits of natural drainage

CIRIA recently launched its latest guidance – Retrofitting urban areas to effectively manage surface water (C713). Micro Drainage part funded the project, with James Berryman sitting on the project steering group. 

The project was concerned that communities have lost the benefits of natural drainage processes. The guidance on retrofitting hopes to deliver:

  • Drainage systems that mimic natural drainage processes
  • Management of pollution alongside flood risk
  • The ability to adapt and manage extreme events
  • Extra benefits from better amenity, improved biodiversity, and greater resilience to climate change
  • Integration with urban design to create better places to live.


Before retrofitting …

As a result the guidance sets out a different approach to managing surface water run-off to sustain communities as pleasant and vibrant places to live. It challenges many of the current conventions employed to manage surface water run-off by integrating the principles of urban design with surface water management.

As well as dealing with the engineering aspects, the guidance covers the organisational and statutory aspects of drainage, the need for adequate funding, appraisal approaches, how different agencies can work better together, how public expectations can be better managed and why incentives and disincentives are important.

... and an image of afterCiria launched the guidance at three events organised across the country. The events gave an overview of the work completed and how this has drawn on experience from both the UK and overseas. There was also an opportunity to hear from a range of other speakers who have been or are actively engaged in retrofitting to manage surface water.

For a copy of the guidance please follow this link.

Nice job

Micro Drainage is looking for an experienced professional from the drainage industry to manage the support function and to provide support to users of its products. Interested? You can find a job description here: