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Developers warned over SUDS flooding risk

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DEVELOPERS RISK causing floods if they rush to install sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), Southern Water warned this week.

If inappropriate for the site and flood history of an area, they can make floods worse, said planning and strategy manager Chris Stuart this week.

He said that water companies or councils would be reluctant to adopt the systems in such cases as they would be regarded as a liability and costly to put right.

This would leave home owners responsible for the systems instead (NCE 18 April).

In the South East, stretches of the A23 to Brighton became a 'river' in the winter of 2000, Stuart said, because 'a lot of flooding was associated with high groundwater levels, rather than run-off'.

As a result, typical SUDS such as soakaways and ditches filled up like storage tanks and then overflowed. Only pumping eventually kept the flooding at bay, he added.

Stuart urged councils not to install SUDS without checking their suitability. 'If anything goes wrong, clearly there is a real risk to properties, ' he added.

Southern Water is currently working on guidelines to help developers and councils with the application of SUDS, as part of a working group with the Environment Agency and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The guidelines will be published later this year.

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