Assessing the effectiveness of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS): Interventions, impacts and challenges

Sarah Cotterill*, Louise J. Bracken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
312 Downloads (Pure)


Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) can be a key tool in the management of extremes of rainfall, due to their capacity to attenuate and treat surface water. Yet, implementation is a complex process, requiring buy-in from multiple stakeholders. Buy-in is often undermined by a lack of practical evidence and monitoring of implemented SuDS. In this paper, we present a collaborative case study between a local authority, university and the UK Environment Agency. This partnership approach enabled the installation of SuDS and monitoring equipment to address surface runoff in the north east of England. Ultrasonic sensors were installed in the drainage network to evaluate the attenuation of surface water. SuDS were installed during an atypically wet spring, followed by a hot and dry summer, providing a range of conditions to assess their performance. Results demonstrate that there was a statistically significant difference in the detected flow level in manholes downstream of the SuDS interventions. Several challenges occurred, from signal obstacles in wireless telecommunication services, to logistical constraints of installing sensors in the drainage network, and issues with the adoption of property level SuDS. These issues require further research. Qualitative support for partnership working was crucial to increase the capacity for delivering SuDS. To ensure the success of future schemes and likelihood of SuDS uptake, partnership working and engaging with communities is vital.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3160
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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