Surface water management should form an integral part of urban planning, regardless of scale. As we know, climate change is already resulting in more frequent and intense rainfall. The impact of this on urban areas is greatly increased as infiltration rates are significantly less through hard surface areas compared to greenfield sites. This brings challenges in terms of drainage, traditionally addressed by hard engineering options (concrete gullies, pipes, drains etc) resulting in increasing flood and pollution risk. Sustainable urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) is not new and was introduced to address flood risk several decades ago and are promoted in the OPW’s (2009) Guidelines for Planning Authorities “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management”. Implementation has been variable across the country and there is an emerging consensus that overground nature-based solutions should be the preferred option in inline Water Sensitive Urban Design.
A Nature Based approach has come more into prominence, especially in response to the water, climate and biodiversity crisis facing the planet. This approach is promoted internationally by organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and supported by the EU’s Green Deal.
In response to requests from local authority staff consulted by LAWPRO during Water Framework Directive meetings held across the country, a webinar was organised on November 9th 2020 to explore, discuss and learn about the potential of Nature Based Surface Water Management in Ireland.