Launch of BS 8582 – a much needed step forward for practical, sustainable drainage

The recently published BSI standard provides a hugely useful ‘code of practice’ to those of us involved in the specification, installation or maintenance of surface water management systems.

One of the key topics recognised by the standard is the relevance of proprietary drainage systems, and how they can provide flexible, effective, and complementary alternatives to natural infiltration systems.

With space and ground conditions such a major factor on new urban developments, this acknowledgement of hybrid surface water drainage solutions will be a welcome development to designers and planners.


BS 8582 recognises the use of proprietary drainage elements as part of a sustainable drainage system (SuDS)

And with the forthcoming legislation changes, BS 8582 also provides SuDS Approval Boards (SABs) with a structured methodology to assess drainage planning applications.

For more information on BS 8582:2013 Code of practice for surface water management for developed sites, visit the BSI 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:

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


Commencement of SuDS Schedule 3

Defra has announced that commencement of the provisions for Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act for sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) will not begin in April 2013.

M40 services, using SuDS

This decision is based on their reiterated intent to work with stakeholders to address issues raised from the consultation on the proposals to implement the SuDS requirements for new and redeveloped sites in England and Wales, which was held earlier this year.

At a recent meeting of ADEPT they supported the collaborative approach including involvement of Local Authorities. The delay to the implementation of proposals also provides an adequate lead-in before the requirements of the schedule come into force.

Understanding SUDS

Water management is a subject that most people rarely reflect upon; hosepipe bans, domestic drain blockages, and the appearance of veritable duck ponds on public roads, not withstanding.

In the public mind, water management systems generally amount to a network of dank drains and unseen pipes carrying rainwater from our streets, and miraculously delivering fresh tap water to our homes.

What’s new in drainage?

If asked about what’s new or different in today’s approach to water management, most people would probably murmur vaguely about ceramic, lead or copper pipes being replaced by plastic products – but then assert that systems and concepts of water management are essentially the same today as they’ve always been. Right?

Wrong! Such an uninformed view could not be further from the truth, and would surely serve to reflect a predominant lack of public awareness about the revolutionary developments currently taking place in drainage and surface water management.

Classic street drain

A changing world

Our built environments have changed greatly over the past 50 years, as urban landscapes have grown exponentially; likewise, global weather patterns and climates have undergone transformative changes. As a result, our predominant concepts of water management have to change too.

Rising SUDS

Arguably, the most intelligent concept to emerge in response to the new environmental realities is sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), also called sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).The term was coined in the UK to refer to sustainable urban drainage systems; in due course, the ‘urban’ emphasis has been eased with the emergence of an all-encompassing approach. The SUDS concept has been adopted in a number of forms internationally, using a variety of emerging technologies. Among these are the Australian Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) model, and Best Management Practice (BMP) or Low Impact Development (LID) in the US.

Understanding SUDS

The essential principle underpinning SUDS is deceptively simple: it replicates how the porous earth naturally absorbs rainwater, and so prevents or alleviates flooding. In our cities today, mass developments with vast acreages of sealed surfaces has meant that rainwater is trapped and gathers above the ground; this frequently results in sustained surface flooding as conventional drainage systems become overwhelmed.

SUDS systems don’t attempt to flush away surface water in the manner of traditional drainage systems. Instead, in the manner of natural rainwater absorption, they collect storm water at source; stores and cleans the surface water, before gradually releasing it back into the environment through a controlled process of attenuation.

The value of SUDS

The positive environmental impacts of SUDS include a marked reduction in the possibility of pollution – for example, from sewage overflow during flooding, protecting groundwater sources, ecosystems, and wildlife and their habitats. Authentic SUDS systems are innately sustainable and cost-effective in terms of their material structure, long-term capacity, management and maintenance; and requiring no energy input – although some varieties harness solar power.

The growing need for SUDS

The necessity for SUDS innovations is thrown into stark relief when it is considered that April 2012 saw the highest UK rainfall figures for the month of April in a century. Severe flooding in England during 2007 – the UK’s largest civil emergence since the second world war – led to the Pitt review (2008)

Carlisle flooding 2005

Sir Michael Pitt’s finding is part of the basis for a new generation of legislation pertaining to surface water management. This includes the Flood and Water Management Act for England and Wales (2010), and the Flood Risk Management Scotland Act (2009)

Further SUDS legislation is in development in the UK, to govern new build and retrospective surface water management; and to underpin emerging systems procedures, legal requirements, and industry standards in drainage infrastructure implementation.


ACO is Britain’s leading exponent of SUDS, and has pioneered an integrated proposition for surface water management with the ability to lead and facilitate the creation and implementation of emerging legislation on the issue. ACO’s products are reshaping how developers approach surface water management systems’ design in new building projects, while facilitating retrofitting for the alleviation of the dangers resulting from the inability of established systems to cope with environmental changes