31. Sustainable Drainage Systems in Urban Areas: a feasibility study

Themes: Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management; Improving water quality and water quantity


  • Reduce flood risk
  • Improve existing wildlife corridors
  • Control or eradicate invasive non-native species
  • Increase the amount and quality of habitat
  • Reduce pollution through physical improvements around the river
  • Work together to investigate and implement solutions to manage and minimise sources of pollution
  • Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements

Project description

A Cranfield University student's Masters thesis evaluated the potential use and benefits of installing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in Lewsey estate in Luton.

In his thesis, David Tortajada Jiménez examined diffuse pollution from roads, roofs and pathways and the challenges it threatens to the natural environment, particularly in urban areas where space for mitigation measures is restricted.

In these circumstances, sometimes conventional surface water drains cannot help, as they take polluted runoff very quickly but have a limited capacity. Sustainable drainage schemes appear to be a great and realistic solution to overcome the problem.

David's project used a combination of computer software to show how retrofitting different SuDS, such as water butts, swales and permeable pavement, could significantly reduce rainfall back-up.

As a result of the implementation of these SUDS elements together with the existing drainage already in place, the investigation concluded that water quality would be significantly improved, with the local community taking advantage of many other benefits including social, financial and environmental enhancement.

Read the full thesis.

Project lead: Cranfield University
Project partners: Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire, Thames Water, Environment Agency, Luton Borough Council
Project start: May 2016
Project end: September 2016
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.