New guidance gives water companies greater freedom to adopt Sustainable Drainage Systems

Water UK has published a pre-implementation version of the 8th edition of ‘Sewers for Adoption’ with the expectation that the document will come into effect in mid 2019 as part of the implementation of the Ofwat Code on Adoption Agreements.

The SfA8 manual sets out detailed guidance for the first time to water companies in England and indicates that most compliant SuDS components will be adoptable by water companies, once the document comes into effect.

The guidance represents the latest thinking in best practice SuDS design, following extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, and led by a steering group chaired by Professor David Balmforth.

In addition to water and sewerage companies, members of the group included Defra, EA, CIRIA, LPAs, LLFAs, specialist drainage engineers and SuDS consultants as well as developers.

The ultimate power of approval for the document as part of the adoption code rests with Ofwat but when the new guidance does come into effect, it will be the only guide to the standards that sewers must meet if they are to be adoptable by water and sewerage companies in England.

Even if the final form of the guidance changes as part of the adoption code work, water and sewerage companies, planning authorities and developers are already considering changes to policies and procedures in order to implement the new manual. The advance publication is intended to allow sufficient time for those changes to be made. 

Guidance ‘will encourage more blue-green infrastructure’

The guidance has been welcomed as an opportunity to introduce more rainwater saving and re-use schemes, as well as encouraging the integration of surface water assets into blue-green infrastructure. Mark Manning, Business Development Manager for sustainable drainage specialists SDS Ltd, said the guidance’s emphasis on encouraging the multiple benefits of SuDS was an opportunity for water companies to combine water saving with flood risk management, commenting: “Sewers for Adoption 8 is a significant milestone for water companies and puts them in a unique position to take the lead in innovative SuDS design. Not only does the document stress that SuDS should be multifunctional, it also reminds us that opportunities for rainwater to be re-used should always be considered first in the design hierarchy.

“The need to prevent surface water flooding and overloading of the sewer network has never been more pressing. With their vast experience in precision engineering, water companies should be well placed to encourage schemes that combine stormwater attenuation with rainwater re-use.” “Releasing this pre-implementation version of the guidance gives architects, engineers, developers and planning authorities the opportunity to work closely with water companies from the earliest stages of planning new schemes, with a view to water companies adopting new assets as quickly as possible.”

Click here to download the SfA8 Guidance

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