United Utilities, the North West’s water company, has awarded more than £1.3m of funding to projects which will boost levels of sustainable drainage across Greater Manchester.

Sustainable Drainage Systems, or SuDS, deliver environmental benefits and improve sewer health by slowing down rainwater runoff and mimicking natural drainage. By reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer network they relieve pressure on the system and play a significant role in helping to reduce the need for releases from storm overflows during times of heavy rainfall.

The four successful projects have been awarded a total of £1.371m and are the first to be awarded funding through the company’s Green Recovery programme, an ambitious plan to work in partnership with organisations across the North West to deliver environmental improvements in rivers, protect habitats, combat invasive species, enhance water quality, improve drainage and reduce pollution.

Together these will increase the volume of sustainable drainage across Greater Manchester by more than 12,500 square metres – almost the same size as the football pitches at Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium added together.

United Utilities plans to invest a total of £9m in these types of schemes by March 2025 and will be inviting more applications early next year.

Johnny Phillips Surface Water Strategy Manager at United Utilities, explained: “We’re excited to support these projects, each of which will bring numerous benefits to communities across Greater Manchester by increasing resilience to climate change by building with nature and introducing blue green infrastructure to manage rainfall in a more natural way.

“Rainwater is a resource which all too often just runs down the drain where it enters the sewer system for treatment that it doesn’t need. SuDS help make the most of it by creatively managing it on the surface where it can be used to support nature in urban spaces, improve visual amenity, create natural habitats and benefit wildlife.”

Funding has been awarded to Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Salford Council to support a range of projects designed to reduce local flooding risk by managing some of the North West’s abundant rainfall more effectively:

Bolton Council will receive £296,300 to support two projects to improve drainage in Bolton town centre through the introduction of green spaces and permeable surfacing which allows rainwater to seep through it, and a second to introduce surface water catchment areas in a residential area that has previously experienced flooding problems during periods of heavy rain.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been awarded £700,000 for two projects. The first will fund the introduction of green roofs, permeable paving, rain gardens, and rainwater detention basins installed at 16 publicly owned sites across Greater Manchester.

The second will see a 96m long raingarden to boost visual amenity and reduce flood risk in the Scobell Street, Bury.

Salford City Council is set to receive £375,000 to create a sustainable drainage neighbourhood in Walkden. This pilot project will see the introduction of more street trees with rainwater retention pits along with rain gardens and permeable paving.

This activity supports United Utilities’ Better Rivers: Better North West action plan which sets out a series of commitments to deliver further improvements to water quality and kick start a river revival over the next three years.

As well as recharging groundwater supplies and capturing rainwater for re-use purposes, SuDS also provide water quality improvements by reducing sediment and contaminants from runoff either through settlement or biological breakdown of pollutants. This can improve the quality of streams, rivers, lakes, bathing or shellfish waters.


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