Jo Bradley, our Director of Operations in the UK, was pleased to be invited to Chair a panel discussion at the WWT Wastewater Conference in Birmingham. The panel was made up of Jonathan Glerum from Anglian Water, Rachel Wray from Jacobs and Richard Woodhouse from Northumbrian Water. The panel discussion focussed on the opportunities to use SuDS to solve some of the difficulties facing the water companies.
There were considerations of SuDS versus the use of underground tanks to reduce surface water runoff into combined sewers, and the panel acknowledged that there will still be some schemes where sub-surface tanks are used to reduce CSO spills because they are a cost-effective solution that can be delivered by existing teams, with existing contractors.
There is a massive skills gap around SuDS delivery and this is making it difficult to illustrate that SuDS can be a competitive option, with engineering teams looking for a solution that they can prove to be effective using modelling and that they can deliver quickly.
The panel talked about the possible (probable?) enactment of Schedule 3 of the Floods and Water Management Act which will make the use of SuDS on most developments mandatory, but that highlighted the skills gap again! As the Local Authorities take on the task of becoming the SuDS Approval Bodies, many of them won’t have access to skilled SuDS engineers, hydraulic modellers, ecologists, or water quality advisors. This runs the risk of holding-up the delivery of widespread SuDS although we recognised that we have a couple of years to ‘plug-this-gap’ before Schedule 3 goes live so it is hoped that Universities, colleges and engineering firms can work to train these new skilled workers straight away.
The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about new technologies, to hear about the barriers to SuDS that water companies foresee, and to meet new people. If you attend a conference that you think would be of interest to Stormwater Shepherds UK, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below: Scottish Water gave a thought-provoking presentation on different strategies to reduce sewage related debris in the water environment.