Flood resilience – are we making a difference?

If you look beyond the recent headlines, some may be surprised to learn that, in many cases, the reach of the flooding impact has been reduced.

Our engineering and planning communities have made some progress – with those flood defences and surface water management solutions introduced unquestionably making a huge difference to towns all over the country.

Here’s a simple infographic we’ve put together that demonstrates the progress that is being made and the design solutions that are helping to create sustainable solutions.

ACO_flooding_infographic_SMALL

Flood prevention plans delay – new controversy?

With the profile of flood prevention high on the agenda it seems to be the right time to be talking SUDS.

News on the subject has been building gradually over the last week or two and the article by Roger Harrabin on the BBC article makes for interesting reading http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25676973

Extended range of flow control systems lower project costs

Our newly extended range of flow control systems can now regulate any surface water flow before it discharges into a watercourse or sewer network. The updated range includes both Q-Brake Vortex Flow controls and Q-Plate orifice plate systems which are designed for efficient handling of flows, simple maintenance and easy installation.

ACO's extended range of flow control systems

ACO’s extended range of flow control systems

ACO Q-Brake Vortex is ideal for flows up to 100 l/s and minimises maintenance with no moving parts and large openings to reduce blockage risk. The enhanced patented bypass door and emergency drain down facility enables remote access to the bypass inlet and independently drains the upstream system – simplifying access and removing the need for direct man access to sewer manholes.

In situations where the ACO Q-Brake Vortex is not suitable, ACO Q-Plate offers an effective alternative. Our orifice plates are available with or without remote bypass and drain down, and depending on your project requirements, are available with flat and round manhole configurations to simplify installation.

Our design team will provide guidance to ensure the right product specification and both flow control systems are included in the WinDes software to simplify hydraulic modelling. Manufactured from stainless steel, the systems offer high quality, yet robust, reliable and economic solutions. With rapid deliveries to exact site requirements, our range of flow control systems will reduce installation costs, minimise maintenance and will ensure the final stages of a project can be concluded quickly and without hassle.

For more information on our range of flow control system visit the ACO website.

 

What impact will the new Water Bill have on SuDS?

The long awaited Water Bill has been published and has started its passage through Parliament. According to the Government website, the bill aims to reform the water industry: from the consumer’s point of view, it will address topics including the UK’s resilience to flooding and drought, the availability and affordability of flood insurance and generally make the industry more innovative and responsive to customers.

But what effect does it have on those of us involved in the specification, installation and maintenance of surface water management systems?

Section 21 of the bill “Drainage systems relieving public sewers” clarifies that the building and maintenance of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) can be undertaken by sewerage undertakers. We welcome this encouragement for the use of SuDS but does this change anything in the design of SuDS?

Bringing the decision process away from the developer – SAB – local authority negotiation into one organisation could change the way that, at least some, SuDS are designed. Even though there is no likelihood of them being included in the SuDS standards, there is a perception that amenity and biodiversity currently have a high weighting in the design of systems for adoption by the local authority. Water and Sewer Companies, coming at the problem from a different direction, could be expected to focus more strongly on demonstrable control of quantity and quality, and how and when maintenance is carried out.

We think that this will help bridge the gap between ‘engineered’ and ‘natural’ solutions (although we all know that ‘natural’ solutions have to be engineered that way) to a more holistic integration of components. What is clear is that access and maintenance will rise up the agenda and we design this into our surface water management solutions. For example StormBrixx, our infiltration and attenuation system, provides full 3D access and significantly simplifies inspection and cleaning.

ACO StormBrixx attenuation and infilitration system

ACO StormBrixx  infilitration and attenuation system

For further details of the measures coverage in the new Water Bill, visit:http://bit.ly/12HJrLm

What impact do you think the new Water Bill will have on SuDS? We would be interested to hear your comments…

 

Central Europe on Flood Alert

Current weather patterns are causing serious problems throughout Europe. According to a recent BBC news piece, Central Europe is on high alert with emergency operations under way in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic in order to deal with record levels of rainfall and the evacuation of thousands of homes. The German cities of Passau and Rosenheim have declared a state of emergency and in Austria, the meteorological service said that the country has witnessed two months worth of rain in just two days.

Now may be the time to highlight the importance of water management at every level in order to help protect our environment. As Central Europe experiences on-going urbanisation, each country’s population continues to grow and migrate towards larger settlements, with towns and cities continuously expanding. As a result, the natural landscape is replaced by hard, man-made surfaces leading to potential problems with water quality and safety, as pollutants mix with the rainwater run off as well as altering the natural drainage patterns. Coupled with the ever-changing weather pattern, a more extreme climate rainfall is expected to increase year on year according to the Met office.

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This increased risk of flooding during high rainfall will have a significant and widespread impact on people, businesses and essential services. Addressing these flooding issues will inevitably not be easy, and it is likely that numerous different initiatives will be required to help alleviate the dramatic and disastrous effects impacting people’s lives and livelihoods. However, by turning to more considerate and innovative approaches to drainage we will have a better chance of over-coming the challenges of rapid climate change now, as well as in the future.

Since the introduction of the Pitt review and the Flood and Water Management Act, we are seeing greater urgency to introduce more sustainable solutions on the micro level that will help manage surface water in a macro context. The SuDS concept is one that looks to deliver effective management of quality and quantity whilst also recognising some of the real positive aspects of water – sustaining biodiversity, improving local amenities, the re-use of water and of course the replenishment of groundwater.  As urbanisation increases so does the urgency for drainage technology to address and support natural processes; ACO are working hard to deliver solutions that integrate with effective natural elements to best manage surface water. Years of experience in dealing with surface water all over the world has put us in a favourable position to provide product and advice with regards to managing surface water.

What happens when the ground is full?

With the second highest rainfall on record in a year which started with drought, 2012 has certainly bought a lot of comment about changing weather patterns and the challenges we face in dealing with the increase in flooding we have been experiencing. The BBC recently reported on how the ground is completely saturated with water and has nowhere else to go underground. The feature also comments on how the groundwater levels have risen faster than any other time since records began in the 1830s, leaving us in unknown territory as to how the groundwater will respond.

Forecasting our weather has always been a topic of much discussion and it has been particularly difficult to predict over the past few months. Milder air holds more moisture and has the propensity to produce much more intense rainfall. When the ground is already full, however, water simply runs along the surface – causing the excessive flooding we have been seeing. The big concern is that these sorts of conditions become the norm and we see these events occurring more frequently year on year. So what can we do for the future?

The requirement for sustainable drainage schemes (SuDS) provision in Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 is scheduled to be enforced in 2014. Where we have continued to urbanise our landscape, issues arise with fast water runoff through conventional piped drainage which overwhelms the sewer capacity – a situation we have seen all too much of during the past 12 months. SuDS require that drainage mimics runoff from the site in its natural state using techniques such as retention and infiltration along with linear channel drainage to provide an effective conveyance mechanism to transfer surface water. The aim is to reduce the rate of rainwater runoff and therefore reduce the risk of flooding.

A SuD needs to be an adaptable and flexible solution to suit individual site requirements. Combining ‘hard’ (or engineered) and ‘soft’ (or natural) components to best effect will certainly help to counter the effects of urbanisation. However in an environment where any system is struggling to cope with volume, will the forthcoming legislation really be effective in delivering all it seeks to? Can it really deliver Quantity management, Quality Management and Quality amenity?

So Much Weather!

The weather has certainly hit the news more frequently over the past months. The extreme weather with droughts and hosepipe bans in March followed by excessive and multiple flooding across the UK has left a lasting impression of 2012.

Our whole planet appears to be seeing a shift in weather patterns with more extremes in heat, cold, rain and wind. After a hot summer in Russia with the raging forest fires, Yakutsk in Eastern Russia has recently being seeing temperatures nearing extreme lows of -50°C, the coldest in decades. 2012 saw severe droughts in many places including the USA and a dry monsoon season in India. 2013 has started with rampaging bush fires in the exceptionally hot Australian summer and here in the UK the wet but very mild end to 2012 has been followed by snowfall across much of the country. However it falls, more wet weather is probably not what you have been hoping for.

Courtesy of wunderground.com

Extraordinary weather seems to be becoming more of the norm and with many UK businesses and homes suffering badly from the floods of 2012 we have to prepare ourselves to handle the extreme weather for the future – protecting our environment and livelihoods. 2012 was the second wettest year on record for the UK. The question we don’t know the answer to, as yet, is whether this is a long-term change to our climate, but many seem to think so.

Sustainable drainage is important for managing the excessive rainfall we have been seeing. As we build for the future we have to plan to manage surface water without loss to business, keeping transport routes safe and protecting our homes. Here at ACO we want to help to make the best provision for this whatever the weather throws at us.

Read the full NY Times article by Sarah Lyall