Water Resilient Cities: the business case for investing in water resilience in Greater Manchester
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Cities disrupt the natural water cycle through changes in land use, climate change and urbanisation. This can negatively effect the natural environment and increase flood risks. Sustainable drainage solutions (SuDS) are one way of better managing surface water, mimicking the way that nature manages water, helping to reduce flooding and pollution. This report examines the impact of retrofitting sustainable drainage solutions (SuDS) at sites in Greater Manchester, finding that it could create new green and blue spaces and save money.
The natural environment is inherently resilient, managing water through the water cycle; moving and storing water from the sky to the ground and then out to the rivers and oceans. Cities disrupt this natural cycle through changes in land use, climate change and urbanisation. With 80 per cent of the UK population living in cities and towns1 urban spaces exert significant influence on our natural environment. As the UK strives to meet global agreements on climate change and keep global temperature rises to less than two degrees, we are still experiencing the effects of climate change in extremes of flooding and drought. Finding ways to build resilience to these extremes is essential to the long-term sustainability of our communities, the environment and the economy.
Good quality natural landscapes in urban areas can also affect how people feel. People who live in the areas within our cities and towns that have more green (such as parks or woodlands etc) or blue (ponds, rivers etc) space have better mental health2. So creating green-blue spaces through SuDs may also improve public health.
About Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are a way of managing surface water. In cities and towns, they are used to slow the flow of surface water, mimicking the way that nature manages water, helping to reduce flooding and pollution.
SuDS incorporate a range of tools and techniques to collect, treat, store and then release storm water slowly into the local environment. These include; swales, green roofs, basins, ponds and wetlands (known as green and blue infrastructure) as well as more engineered options such as below ground storage and permeable surfaces. Used in urban areas, SuDS can support water resilient cities as well as creating green spaces.
Using green and blue infrastructure for climate adaptation can transform our cities, providing economic, social and environmental benefits to businesses and communities. SuDS support resilience, can contribute to sustainable development and improve the places where we live, work and play. For the greatest impact they need to be implemented at a landscape scale across towns, cities or regions.
1. Department for Environment and Rural Affairs; (2018); Statistical Digest of Rural England; January 2018 Edition; available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk
2. Stephen Morton; (2016); Green space, mental wellbeing and sustainable communities; Public Health England; Public Health Matters Blog; available at https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk