News Release: Facing up to the challenge of water management in Europe
Michelle Fleming, product manager of Wavin Plastics Limited, discusses the recent floods in Europe and outlines possible methods to alleviate the burden of traditional drainage systems and lessen the likelihood of similar events in the future
“At one time, severe flooding was seen as a rare phenomenon associated with the winter months, so this summer’s torrential floods and the devastating effect it has had on Central Europe has brought a greater focus on flooding and what can be done to reduce its impact.
“Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, as well as the regions of the Gard, Herault and Vaucluse in France were scenes of destruction following the “Floods of the Century” during July. In some places, as much water fell in a few days as usually falls over an entire year, over two and a half billion cubic metres of water which resulted in over £1.2 billion worth of damage.
“The floods were intensifed by lack of environmental and urban planning, deforestation and poor river management, which combined with the unstable weather conditions has meant that flooding and droughts alike are having a more extreme effect.
“In addition, many of those who suffered losses had built their homes and factories on floodplains – in some cases without, but in many cases with, official approval. Water Authority officials have since referred to the lack of investment in flood control in the past and called for greater outlays in the future.
“The UK is gradually acknowledging the need for investment in the field of water management. Steps have been taken through the concept of sustainable urban drainage to combat damage to properties and land caused by these weather conditions. Although many old methods and principles are still valid, nowadays there are many new tools such as swales, filter drains, trench soakaways, porous pavements and rainwater harvesting available for both domestic and commercial functions.
“These systems are further endorsed by regulations such as the recently revised Part H3 of the Building Regulations, which specifically prioritises discharge outlets for roof and paved area drainage stating a preference for soakaways to be considered before any other drainage system.
Environmental Solutions Division
“Through the establishment of our Environmental Solutions division at Wavin Plastics, we have an exceptional strategic approach to water management and a highly developed corporate environmental policy. One of the first areas of our division has focused on is providing effective solutions for managing stormwater by developing a new innovative stormwater management system, AquaCell and a domestic stormwater retention system, Garastor.
“Manufactured from polypropylene, the AquaCell system is a cost effective way of controlling stormwater, either by limiting the outflow and providing temporary storage, or where conditions are suitable, providing soakaways for the stormwater to infiltrate back into the surrounding ground.
“The system comprises a series of individual modules assembled together to form an underground structure which can either be used for stormwater storage or as an NHBC approved alternative to domestic soakaways.
“Measuring 1.0m x 0.5m x 0.4m, each module is manufactured from polypropylene and features a matrix framework to provide a holding capacity of 190 litres with a void to solid ratio of 95% to 5% and maximum structural integrity after installation.
“In addition, we have also developed an innovative stormwater retention system that offers unrivalled benefits for the environment, the developer and the householder. Manufactured under licence, the system has been designed to provide an efficient, cost effective, drainage solution for residential developments by utilising the space under garages as a storage area for excess water during storms to prevent flooding and damage to properties.
“One metre in height and made from durable polyethylene, the innovative system works by collecting stormwater from the roofs and drives of properties in a pre-fabricated storage facility built into the undercroft of a garage or beneath a car park. A simple non-mechanical control unti that regulates the inflow and outflow of water and releases it into the traditional drainage system at a controlled rate.
“By utilising an existing void (the undercroft of a garage) the system becomes more economically viable. In addition, it can be used with the AquaCell system to create a storage void.
“With no electrical or mechanical parts, Garastor is extremely reliable and requires little or no maintenance and on large developments with free outfall, it will also reduce pipe size and depths of dig on site.
“Finally, there is no need to use valuable, potentially developable land for concrete culverts or balancing ponds that are subject to adoption, maintenance and commuted sums – this in turn reduces the burden for the Water Company.
Overall, although massive floods have been suffered this year in Central Europe and southern France, this does not let these regions off the hook for another hundred years. Tomorrow could bring another “Flood of the Century”. With that in mind, there is all the more reason to draw on the many lessons of these floods to be better prepared for the next one. One step towards doing this is to understand the long-term performance of sustainable urban drainage systems in order to play a part in minimising the impact of flooding over the next few decades – saving lives, homes and money.”
Note to editors
Wavin Plastics is a leading manufacturer of plastic pipes and fitting for the utilities, civils and building products markets. It is part of the Wavin group, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial plastic products and one of the largest producers of plastic pipes and fittings in the world.
Founded in 1955, the Wavin Group today operates in 26 countries and employs over 4,500 people across Europe and South East asia. Wavin Plastics operates a Quality Management System, which is accredited to BS EN ISO 9002 and is listed in the BSI register of Assessed Capability.
Contact: Carol Heneghan
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