A new stormwater storage product has been launched to help the ongoing battle for sustainable urban drainage.
Stormwater is finding quicker and easier ways of slipping into rivers and reservoirs as new development shrouds the UK landscape in concrete. Meanwhile, climate change is likely to increase the intensity and frequency of downpours. The future does not look good for urban drainage.
Until now the problem has been that developers and local authorities do not see sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) as assets which have any value. Past solutions have involved building ponds to collect water which are at best unsightly, or at worst obstacles to further development.
Underground flood storage units are less of an eyesore, but involve digging deep trenches and occupy large areas which cannot be built on later.
To meet these challenges, water consultant Hydro International has launched Stormbloc.
The 800mm by 800mm by 663mm loadbearing plastic crates bring together a neat solution for storing large volumes of water while allowing easy inspection.
This means it can be managed by developers or water companies allowing its maintenance costs to be added to water rates.
The plastic units each hold 406 litres of water and take up to 29t/m2 short term loading and 10t/m2 long term loading. The high storage capacity means only shallow trenches need be dug for any stormwater storage system.
The blocks contain a 220mm by 570mm access tunnel which can be lined up across the length of the infiltration system.
Cameras can be inserted through the tunnel to inspect any blockages. A high pressure jetting hose can also enter the system through this conduit to shift any accumulated sediment or debris.
'This is an engineering solution to sustainable drainage, ' says Hydro proposals manager Alex Stephenson.
'Stormbloc can withstand traffic loads and can even be used under roads as well as car parks. But it hasn't been approved by the Highways Agency. . . yet, ' he adds.