SRA End of Year Report 2016-17: Urban Water Management – Workstream 3

Sponge EU

A project to raise awareness of what the owners of large impermeable areas can do to reduce run-off and hence flooding. Being Achieved: Somerset County Council and Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) successfully bid to the EU’s Interreg 2 Seas programme for a 4-year project to 2020 (unaffected by Brexit). The SRA is contributing funding, to help WRT retrofit residential SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) and the county council retrofit community areas and retail parking space. Sophisticated Ecosystems Services Mapping is being done (initially in Taunton) to identify suitable sites.

Rain garden project

A small demonstration project (half-funded by Wessex Water, and being delivered for the SRA by Somerset County Council) to show the environmental and run-off reduction benefits of ‘rain garden’ techniques. Being achieved: Contract tendered to create small-scale examples, working with residents and social housing providers.

SuDS Review

A study to establish whether selected Somerset SuDS schemes were adequately designed, were constructed as designed, have any deficiencies, and are being adequately maintained. Being achieved: Project tendered and awarded by Somerset County Council to consultants JBA; pilot review of two sites undertaken. Proposal submitted to SRA to update and expand project to give fuller picture of SuDS performance in Somerset.

SuDS Inspection

A large proportion of developer-constructed SuDS remain in private ownership for future maintenance. No authority is funded or resourced to inspect these assets during construction. Being achieved: SRA funding is enabling Somerset County Council to offer a SuDS Inspection service to Local Planning Authorities, initially for major developments, to help ensure that drainage schemes are being built as specified.

Planning requirements

A study to establish how planning requirements to reduce run-off can be determined and the extent to which they can be created, for eg, by requiring rainwater harvesting on new development. Being achieved: Review carried out within Somerset County Council of national and local planning policy; interviews done with Local Planning Authority officers and stakeholders. Interim findings report circulated.

Encouraging urban and village run-off reduction

A Somerset-wide campaign – involving all SRA partners and drawing on all of the above strands in Workstream 3 – to raise awareness of urban water management issues, in particular to communicate the realities of the impact of run-off, and of the limited powers which Local Planning Authorities have to address matters concerning new and existing developments. Better explanation, better understanding and better evidence with which to lobby central Government for changes are among the key aims of W3. Being achieved: Research being done, strategy being prepared.

Wirral Park

Wirral Park balance pond and pumping station was built in 1989 to help protect Glastonbury against flooding. In 2015-16, the SRA funded the replacement of life-expired one-way flap valves and gate valves, and the removal of two skips full of silt and debris from the inlet channel. This was Phase 1 of a scheme designed and delivered by Mendip District Council to ensure that Wirral Park would continue to protect more than 200 homes and four hectares of industrial estate. Not yet achieved: Phase 2 will upgrade Wirral Park’s dated electrical control system to meet current regulations and allow remote monitoring should the need arise. This SRA-funded Mendip DC scheme was delayed in 2016 because of a staff vacancy, however, a consultant engineer was appointed in February 2017 and work is now set to be delivered in 2017-18.

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