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Will adopting SUDS pay off in the long term?

There are far more issues involved with sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) than raised in your recent articles. It is not just a question of water companies not adopting such systems - it is a major issue itself as to who is responsible - the key point is will they work?

By that, I do not mean on day one, but long term - are they sustainable?

In many ways, the extreme wet winter of 2000/01 reinforced the points many of us have been making. In that year, many areas which would Wet weather will expose poorly planned SUDS.

have been thought to be ideal for SUDS - basically good soakage areas - became producers of water, ie high groundwater levels and springs breaking out. The A23 in Brighton became a river. If you add that to concerns about land drainage generally - split responsibilities, lack of maintenance, piping of ditches, filling of ponds and the like - you can see that all is not well.

If surface water piped systems are not provided or reduced in size, what happens in wet periods? In effect, like in many areas in 2000/01, the water excluded once the SUDS facilities are 'full' will find another way out. With the land drainage system also overloaded, this will often be the foul sewerage system that is not designed for these flows resulting in sewerage flooding.

Poor for our customers. Very poor for the environment.

Let us not get carried away with a nice concept - which it is. It needs to be thought through properly so in 10 or 20 years' time we have a success.

That is not the likelihood at the moment.

Stuart Derwent, managing director, Southern Water Worthing BN13 3NX

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