WATER COMPANIES should be legally required to maintain all sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) which feed into sewers, according to a sustainability think tank report, published this week.
SUDS are systems that prevent or delay storm water flowing into the sewer system.
They are sometimes designed with plants which absorb water through their roots, and can also incorporate storage ponds or underground storage tanks which feed into sewers.
New legislation would also have to allow water companies to include SUDS in their asset base so that they can include the extra maintenance costs as justification for price increases.
This week's report, Putting SUDS into practice, was produced by Natural Step and is funded by the Environment Agency.
'There is growing evidence that SUDS are in fact cheaper to maintain (than piped systems), ' says the report. It says SUDS also reduce the storm water load on sewers, cutting maintenance costs.
Water companies have been 18 April). Natural Step science director and report author Mark Everard said that this is because water regulator Ofwat does not recognise SUDS as assets.
The report also suggests that landowners maintain SUDS that do not drain into sewers, such as above ground retention ponds.
'Basically everything above ground should be the landowners' responsibility, with everything below the water companies', ' said Everard, adding that this system was employed in Scotland to good effect.
New legislation will also be needed if private landowners are to be expected to maintain their SUDS properly, he added.
Water UK policy advisor Mike Waddington said this week that many water companies were adopting SUDS but only on the condition that they could be classified as sewers.
www. naturalstep. org. uk