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Project Focus: Anglian Water uses mapping tool for retrofit SuDS

As part of its plans to shape and develop its surface water management strategy, Anglian Water has been working with a specialist team at engineering and design consultancy, Atkins, to look at the opportunities for installing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) within existing communities to manage surface water.

by Zorica Todorovic, Associate Director, and Neil Breton, Senior Modeller, Atkins

As part of its plans to shape and develop its surface water management strategy, Anglian Water has been working with a specialist team at engineering and design consultancy, Atkins, to look at the opportunities for installing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) within existing communities to manage surface water.

SuDS are increasingly being explored as a chosen option for managing surface water by water companies due to the range of wider benefits that they can provide including the energy savings from the reduced pumping costs; the increase in green space improving local amenity; carbon reduction; and creating headroom in the water infrastructure to allow for growth.

The Atkins team used its SuDS Studio toolkit to analyse 1,900km2 of catchments in the Anglian Water region to identify locations where SuDS could help manage surface water.

The SuDS Studio toolkit is a unique geospatial tool that identifies feasible SuDS and then selects the most cost-beneficial feasible solution. It does this by inputting a range of GIS data that defines the geospatial relationship between sources and runoff and locations that SuDS could be installed. The approach also includes datasets on constraints (such as flood zones, listed buildings, topography etc.) to ensure the assessment is robust. It is different to other mapping tools as it eliminates solutions using engineering criteria.

As a rapid assessment tool, it is a much more cost effective than the traditional approach, whereby areas previously had to be assessed individually by hand / boots on the ground. The tool also prioritises the opportunities for SuDS, which is extremely helpful to those using the tool, and provides information on constraints associated with each site.

Using SuDS Studio at Anglian

In the case of Anglian Water, 16 different types of SuDS solutions were included as part of the assessment, along with the unit costs for each type of solution. This ensured that Anglian Water was shown the most cost-effective solution for each site as the preferred option. To ensure the SuDS options would be futureproofed from climate change and unpredictable weather, a number of climate change scenarios (including a 100 year plus climate change scenario) were run through the model.

Representatives from Anglian Water were consulted throughout the course of project. The dataset, highlighting the options for SuDS retrofit opportunities, is now available for staff at Anglian Water to use to help match the best solutions to the need, and shape its overall surface water strategy.

Not only can the tool be run quickly, saving time and money, it can also be re-run very easily. The key benefit for Anglian Water was that it was able to see all the opportunities for SuDS across its entire operating area, enhancing its ability to make decisions about the best opportunities for the implementation of SuDS and prioritising investment.

The scope of the SuDS Studio was demonstrated by providing the opportunity for Anglian Water to see not only where surface water could be removed but also how to maximise the benefits of SuDS at the same time, such as how to improve the water or air quality, reduce noise or heat island effects and improve biodiversity and amenity. Whilst these are tertiary requirements for SuDS, they are important aspects that add value to Anglian Water’s overall surface water strategy.

The SuDS Studio project produced the following results for the water company:

• 13.5 million feasible SuDS solutions were identified and mapped;
• Over 5.5 million cost effective SuDS solutions were shortlisted;
• Analysis was undertaken of SuDS opportunities across different catchment types across Anglian Water’s entire operating region;
• As the model can rapidly scan large areas it has meant that SuDS solutions could be fast tracked for engineering and modelling; and
• The tool ensured the solutions identified would be resilient to climate change.

Next steps

The SuDS Studio outputs have given Anglian Water a much better understanding of the surface water removal potential for its entire region. This will support it with its long-term strategy planning, and look at the opportunities for mitigating the future demands of growth, climate change and catchment creep together with reducing flood risk, energy usage and improving water quality.

The data from the SuDS Studio project is now being incorporated and utilised by their scheme delivery teams to look for surface water removal opportunities for a number of new projects.

Anglian Water sees that an essential and hugely important part of its plans is to work closely with their other flood risk partners, including lead local flood authorities and district councils. Consequently Anglian Water will be sharing the opportunities highlighted by SuDS Studio with these partners to enable the delivery of partnership funded opportunities.

A key part of its future plans is also the involvement of its customers. Implementing SuDS will be a sea-change from more traditional engineering solutions, and it is a journey that they want their customers to understand and be involved with.

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