Urban drainage has developed from an engineering discipline, concerned principally with public health and safety outcomes, into a multifaceted vision linking drainage with environmental and wider social and economic imperatives to deliver multifunctional outcomes. UK attention is too often focused on surface water as ‘a problem’, despite international progress and initiatives showing that an ‘opportunity-centred’ approach needs to be taken. Sustainable drainage systems, or ‘Suds’, can, when they are part of an integrated approach to water management, cost-effectively provide many benefits beyond management of water quality and quantity. New tools are available that can design Suds for maximum value to society but this requires greater collaboration across disciplines to seize all of the opportunities available. This paper introduces those tools and a roadmap for their use, including guidance, design objectives and criteria for maximising benefits. These new supporting tools and guidance can help to provide a business case for greater use of Suds in future.


Ashley, R., Walker, A., D’Arcy, B., Wilson, S., Illman, S., Shaffer, P., Woods-Ballard, B. and Chatfield, P. (2015). UK sustainable drainage systems: past, present and future. Proceedings of ICE – Civil Engineering, 168(3), pp. 125-130.  Copyright © 2015  Thomas Telford.

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Last updated: 6th Apr 2017