Downstream Thinking & Sustainable Drainage
Downstream Thinking is taking a new approach to tackling flooding from sewers.
Across the world there are examples of better ways of managing storm water in towns and cities: engineered but natural features that store water close to where it falls and then re-use this water to make homes for wildlife and enhance our green spaces. There are also better ways all the agencies that deal with flooding can work together - by sharing aspirations and priorities and pooling resources. This is all part of the Downstream Thinking approach.
What's the problem?
Our sewer network is in most places a 'combined system' where rainwater from roads, roofs, driveways and in some cases fields enters the sewer network. As more green spaces are paved over, ever more surface water is entering the sewer network and overloading it with stormwater when it rains hard. This has the effect of triggering overflows or causing spills of diluted untreated sewage, polluting the environment. Traditional ways of containing stormwater - building bigger sewers and concrete tanks - are simply not keeping pace with the rate of increase in surface water. Every new driveway, patio, hardstanding or extension is adding to the impermeable areas in our towns and cities, while climate change is producing ever more intense downpours.
Why is a new approach needed? Storm tanks simply hold water at the bottom of the catchment - and when they are full they overflow. Pumping so much water around the sewerage network is energy-intensive and costly. We need to reduce both the cost of pumping and the amount of carbon we use as part of our commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.
A more sustainable solution The Watershed programme aims to reduce sewer flooding using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and partnership working. SuDS aim to mimic natural drainage processes by managing rain water on the surface. See examples of sustainable drainage in gardens here
We are planning projects across our region, many of them in partnership with the Environment Agency and local councils.
How we can help
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How can I contact you?
You'll find all of our contact information here, which includes our most frequently asked questions, arrange a free call back form and our telephone numbers.
Where is your Head Office?
We’re based in Exeter. Our address is: South West Water Limited, Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter, Devon EX2 7HR View Larger Map | Get Directions | View Bird's Eye
How hard is my water?
Most of our area is sourced from moorland rivers and reservoirs and is classed as soft or moderately soft. In East Devon the water comes from deep underground boreholes and this water is classed as slightly or moderately hard. You can read more about Water...
My water is discoloured, what do I do?
To clear discoloured water, run the cold tap that is fed directly from the mains (usually your cold kitchen tap) for up to an hour, checking it every 10 minutes to see if it has cleared. If you are a household customer on a water meter, we can credit your account with...
Are there any hosepipe bans this year?
No. The last water restriction in our region was in 1996. More information is available on our water resources.
Can I swim in your reservoirs?
No, swimming isn’t allowed in any of our reservoirs. There are however many recreational activities including wakeboarding, sailing and windsurfing available through South West Lakes Trust.
How do I order a water butt?
You can order a water butt from the specialist savewatersavemoney. By installing a water butt directly to your gutter downpipe, you will collect rainwater from the roof and can then use it for watering plants, topping up a pond or washing your car. On average every year...
How much water does an average person use?
The national average annual usage figures have been taken from The Consumer Council for Water and are listed below: Annual water use in Cubic Metres CM3 Number of people living in your home Low use Average use High...
How can I save water?
By taking simple steps like spending one minute less in the shower or turning the tap off while you brush your teeth, can set you on track to start saving water. To help you save water around the home, we’ve teamed up with savewatersavemoney to offer a FREE water-saving...
How can I dispose of fat, oil or grease?
The best way to get rid of fat or food without pouring it down the sink is to dry wipe plates and pans before washing them and dispose of it in the bin. Leftover cooking fat should be emptied into a container (such as a fat trap) for it to cool and solidify and then...
What causes sewer flooding?
Sewer flooding can be caused by: Blocked pipes Extreme weather causing prolonged rainfall Insufficient land drainage Surcharges from private sewers or drains You can find out more information here about the causes of sewer flooding.
How can I stop sewer flooding?
You can help to stop our sewers from blocking and flooding by following our guide below: Only flush the 3 P’s pee, paper and poo Bag and bin baby wipes, cotton buds, sanitary products, nappies and similar materials Do not pour grease or cooking fat down the sink – the...