Where should all that rain go?

When it rains, where does the rain go?
This is a question that we have discovered that not many people know the answer to.

Many people do not realise that when it rains in towns and cities that once the water hits the ground and then disappears into the drain that it’ll end up in one of our rivers.

In London we have two types of sewer system. A Combined System and a Separate System. When it rains the rain water is either ushered into a pipe taking road pollution with it and deposited into a nearby waterway or the rain water over capacitates our sewage treatment works resulting in the discharge of untreated sewage into our rivers. Sewage discharge happens approximately once a week in London.

This is how our systems have been designed. However these systems are killing our rivers.  road run-off contains heavy metals from our cars and our sewage waste is full of river harming chemicals and sewage related litter.

Many of these issues could be reduced if we employed the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). SuDS are a natural way of managing drainage in urban areas. We have seen a massive reduction in the amount of green spaces as the increase of vehicles on our roads has demanded paved surfaces. This has made it much harder for water to naturally soak into the ground. SuDS are effectively creating spaces to facilitate natural drainage that can reduce the amount of pollution entering our rivers; and also alleviates some of the extra pressure placed onto the sewers and the pipes underground.
With the help of SuDS we could reduce the amount of rain water entering our sewers. This could prevent  pollution entering our rivers and also reduce the risk of street level flooding.

What you can do:

  • Pledge your Love to the Lea
  • Install a rain barrel or a rain garden on your property and encourage your neighbours too
  • Check your home for misconnections
  • Switch to phosphate free detergents
  • Use water saving devices (available from Thames Water) to reduce the amount of water you use and consequently discharge
  • Talk to your local Councillor and ask them to work towards making your local authority a river friendly council

Thames21 now have a number of SuDS projects across greater London