We have been really busy asking the industry about the future of drainage and recently hosted a debate at the ICE asking: “Do SuDS add value to developments?”.
We have been discussing SuDS for around 20 years and it has long been considered to be the future of drainage, a return to stormwater being managed more in keeping with how nature works, rather than collecting it into a pipe and moving it downstream to be somebody else’s problem. Respondents on our future of drainage website certainly seem to agree with many submissions suggesting wider integration of SuDS and the implementation of legislation to drive it.
It is part of the SuDS community’s ambitions that integrated SuDS would become a selling feature for a development. A house on a development with SuDS would somehow be worth more than an equivalent house on an adjacent development without SuDS. I am not sure currently this would happen and part of the reason is that water is undervalued… we turn the taps on and water comes out, it goes down the plug and disappears, we flush our toilets and it has gone. When the rain falls, so long as it does not come in through the roof and the gutters are not blocked, most people do not even think about what has happened to it.
Compare this with energy. Energy Performance Certificates are everywhere when a house is sold or when we buy electrical appliances. Smart meters allowing energy monitoring are increasingly commonplace. Buy a dishwasher and there is a standard format energy certificate, yet on that same dishwasher there is no standardised certificate for water consumption. Perhaps in the future, we will see water performance certificates based on water consumers in the house and also the sustainability of the drainage. But even then I doubt that house A will be worth more than house B. Most of us buy our homes on an emotional level… I do not know anybody who has decided not to buy a house because it has a poor energy rating or pay more, because it has a good one.
Of course, value is not just about how much our house is worth, it is the unmeasurable quality of what we like about where we live. It is here that SuDS adds value, right now, today, not in the financial value of the property but in what it makes us feel about it… I suggest it is bigger than just individual developments, true sustainable drainage, properly integrated into developments as part of clear planning strategy adds value to society. By reducing the risk of flooding, we make communities safer. By improving water quality we can create a sustainable, reusable resource that benefits the community while removing demand on other resources. And by creating biodiversity and amenity within the community we create nicer places to live, to work, to play, to bring our children up in. Who could argue that is not adding value.
There is still time to submit your thoughts on the future of drainage at www.futureofdrainage.co.uk. There is an iPad Pro for the best two entries.
● Martin Lambley is Wavin’s product manager, storm water
Logo wavin connect to better cmyk copy