House builders in Hull – and potentially those across the rest of the UK – will soon be able to take advantage of a new sustainable drainage guide for proposed new building schemes, the result of a collaboration between Yorkshire Water and Hull City Council.
According to the Hull Daily Mail, this partnership intends to help ease pressure on Hull’s drainage network, with the city the first in the whole of the UK to have a flood risk planning policy devised.
The two organisations have come together under the Living With Water partnership, which was set up in response to the floods back in 2007 that saw more than 8,000 homes in Hull affected by surface water flooding.
The aim of the guidance – which is legally binding – is to ensure that new developments in Hull will not increase the flood risk to nearby businesses and residents alike.
Developers of brownfield sites will have to reduce existing surface water runoff rates by a minimum of 50 per cent by using sustainable drainage measures such as reed beds, ponds, swales and aqua greens.
And developers looking at new greenfield sites – like open space in new housing projects – will have to ensure that their designs are implemented in such a way as to make sure there is no increase in surface water entering the drainage network in Hull.
A series of standard design principles have also been drawn up for the construction of new sustainable drainage schemes. These include making them a vital part of the site as early in the development as possible, while reopening existing culverts and retaining watercourses and drains where possible.
Not only that but developers will have to design their green drainage schemes with future maintenance over the long term in mind, including the likes of grey water recycling and water butts when coming up with plans for new homes.
Assistant director of economic development and regeneration with the local council Alex Codd was quoted by the news source as saying: “What is really positive and significant is the fact that this is the first collaboration between a council and water company.
“It provides a consistent approach and ensures developers are aware of what is required from them at the earliest stages of the planning process so a high-quality sustainable drainage system can be included within the design.
“Until now, developers have had to separately consult with the council and Yorkshire Water and sometimes they would get different responses. As a result, this would create uncertainty, particularly around costs.”
Mr Codd went on to explain that the idea is to make flood risk measures a positive selling point for new projects, noting that sustainable drainage – when designed properly – can yield numerous benefits, whether its flood risk and water quality or improved wildlife habitats and biodiversity.
Living With Water is also working to challenge and inspire local residents to help play their own part in preventing flooding-related issues, with a real home now being built to demonstrate the different property level protections and the various flood alleviation options that are currently available.
As you’re sure to know already, Hull faces significant challenges because of flooding. But did you know that 20 per cent of the entire land mass of the UK drains right through the Humber Estuary?
This means that Hull is unfortunately at the very bottom of a landscape bowl, as such, so the majority of the city is below the high tide level. This is being held back by the flood protection systems in place right now – but big city engineering can’t do all the hard work by itself.
As the partnership explains, in order for the city to be as resilient as it can to flooding, big changes need to happen. The near future will see lots more engineering work take place to combat rising sea levels and increase the city drainage demands, but a community-led revolution is required as well.
To help further this goal, a new home is set to be built on land that is currently deemed as being unsuitable for development because of the associated flood risks. But this property will be built using the designs and techniques taken from other communities around the world who have managed to successfully live on or near flood waters for years.
The surrounding land is due to be designed and landscaped in conjunction with property level protections to create a house that is secure, safe and suitable to live in even if a flood does take place. This home will then be used to showcase just what can be achieved if the right solutions are used to reduce the risks and increase personal water resilience.
Businesses and homeowners can start doing their bit to help tackle the issue of flooding in Hull right now by investing in a water butt.
You might not think that this would make a huge difference when the rain starts to fall (and a yellow weather warning for the region was issued just this week) but if everyone starts to store small amounts of water, the cumulative effects could be huge.
This is what the water butt and smart services project being run by Living With Water is currently exploring right now. As explained, the biggest flood risk to Hull is its water network – a combined sewer system that carries toilet waste away but also all the water that lands on the ground and the roofs of buildings when it rains.
When it rains a lot, the problem is that these sewers are only able to transport a limited amount of water at a time, which can mean that ground and wastewater escapes the system and floods properties.
But using a water butt and a smart sensor could help address this issue, at least in part. When heavy rain is forecast, all the water butts across the city could be emptied remotely before the sewer network fills up with rainwater.
These butts would stop a lot of rainwater from entering the sewer system, holding back millions of litres of water and allowing for extra capacity for land runoff to enter the system safely and reduce the chances of the sewers flooding.
The organisation has now teamed up with the University of Sheffield to test how this idea would work in reality, with trials ongoing that include the installation of large-scale water harvesting on buildings owned by the council. This project will be ongoing throughout 2019 – so keep an eye out to see how it goes.
Living With Water is a partnership between Hull City Council, the Environment Agency, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Yorkshire Water. Hull still has the second biggest risk of flooding in the UK outside London so it’s essential that work is done to make the region more resilient – hence the founding of the organisation.