Managing Your Drainage

The increased rainfall that we are experiencing in the UK as a result of climate change is placing an ever growing burden on our drains and ditches. It is essential that they are cleared regularly and properly maintained. Flooding is now the most common natural hazard in Europe and the frequent extreme events will not have escaped your notice.

I offer a comprehensive drainage and ditching service and can help to ensure that your drainage systems are flowing smoothly. I also work in conjunction with local authorities and land owners to implement flood prevention schemes. De-silting and ditch clearing are obvious methods of reducing your flood risk but there are many alternative approaches which you could adopt including the planting of trees in strategic areas, the construction of shallow ponds and the slowing of water flow to help water to soak away.

I would be happy to meet with you to advise you as to the best way forward and the measures that you can take to reduce the risk of flooding, to prevent the runoff of nutrients and pollutants into the watercourses and to create valuable wetland habitats for wildlife.


Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems

Agricultural practices have altered the characteristics of soils and this has led to an increase in the flow of water into our watercourses. The loss of top soil and vegetation inevitably reduces filtration and so more nutrients and pollutants are carried into rivers and streams.

The environment agency is exploring the efficacy of various drainage systems which farmers and land owners can utilise on their land to reduce the risk of flooding and pollution. Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (RSuDS) are voluntary but encouraged. Financial incentives for implementation are available via a variety of stewardship schemes.

What Are RSuDS?

RSuDS are individual or linked features which replicate natural processes. The aim is to create components of the landscape which attenuate water flow. In simple terms, RSuDS are measures which intercept drainage pathways.

Traditional drainage systems have been designed to carry water away quickly but this results in an increased transit of pollutants to watercourses. RSuDS provide breaks in the pathway. They trap sediment before it leaves a field, prevent soil loss and contain nutrients. Water is captured temporarily and so local flooding is alleviated whilst valuable aquatic habitats are formed. RSuDS include:

Sediment traps
Grassed waterways and swales
Infiltration trenches
French drains
Barriers in ditches and swales
Retention ponds
Wetlands within ditches
Woodland belts
Buffer strips

RSuDS should meet the following criteria:

Low energy input
Zero, or only positive environmental impacts
Low capital and running costs
Provide additional benefits (habitat and amenity)

Biodiversity and RSuDS

Population growth and the increase in consumption which has inevitably accompanied it have placed extreme pressures on the environment and wildlife. The result is that nature becomes less able to deliver the food and resources on which we depend.

Drainage measures can create crucial habitats for wildlife and so offer enormous potential for biodiversity. The variety of vegetation which is able to prosper in drainage systems will support diverse wildlife and the drainage features are able to provide corridors which link habitats for both aquatic and terrestrial species.

Several habitats which are associated with the types of watercourses and banks that could be influenced by or incorporated into RSuDS have been identified within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. These reduce water flow and therefore the risk of flooding and pollution but also provide the added bonus of promoting biodiversity. These habitats are as follows:

Rivers and streams
Standing open water and canals
Oligotrophic and dystrophic Lakes
Mesotrophic lakes
Eutrophic standing waters
Aquifer-fed naturally fluctuating water bodies
Boundary and linear features
Broadleaved, mixed and yew woodland
Neutral grassland lowland meadows
Improved grassland and floodplain grazing marsh
Fen, marsh and swamp lowland fens

There are a few terms mentioned above which you may not be familiar with:

Oligotrophic Lake
A lake which is characterized by a low accumulation of dissolved nutrient salts which supports only a sparse growth of algae and other organisms and having a high oxygen content.

Dystrophic lake
A lake characterized by a lack of nutrients, and often having a low pH (acidic) and a high humus content. Plant and animal life are typically sparse.

Mesotrophic lake
Lakes which feature moderate levels of nutrients and have moderate levels of alkalinity. They often have clear water and are capable of supporting a variety of species.

Eutrophic Lake
A lake with high levels of nutrients which increase the concentration of plants. These bodies of water are prone to algae blooms and support large fish populations.