Wherever rainfall lands, it starts to flow into and through the landscape. The more we pave over the soil, converting open land into urban space, the greater the potential for flooding and pollution.
FH Wetland Systems offers SUDS and catchment management design and consultancy as well as plant supply and maintenance advice.
Stormwater is the rainwater that runs off roofs, car parks, roads, pavements and yards. It can be surprisingly polluting due to contamination by petrol and diesel spills and drips, grit, mud, soiling by cats, dogs and birds, and spilled food and other material. The flow volume leaving paved surfaces is much less consistent than from woods or farmland. By using constructed wetlands and ponds, water can be filtered to a high quality and discharged at more stable rates. This helps to prevent floods and droughts further down the stream or river catchment.
Natural wetlands act as sponges in the water environment, soaking up surplus rain during wet weather and releasing it slowly during dry weather. This is the principle behind wetlands used in Sustained Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), which are designed to counteract the rapid runoff from paved surfaces in towns and new developments. In this way, purpose built constructed wetlands for stormwater treatment can be designed to prevent small streams near new housing estates, roads or yard areas from being overwhelmed during downpours and drying out during prolonged dry spells.
Stormwater filtration is often required by city and county councils as part of new developments. FH Wetland Systems have worked with engineers and architects to introduce pond and wetland areas that are attractive to local wildlife as well as satisfying the necessary planning requirements of water filtration and flow attenuation.
SUDS aren't the only way to reduce flooding and its impacts. A whole suite of causes require a similar suite of responses.
Climate breakdown is one of the causes of flooding in recent decades. The more we can tackle our impact on global weather systems the less extreme our weather patterns will be. Happily, solutions exist in abundance; and wonderful synergies come into play whereby many of the measures that create climate resilience also serve habitat protection and regeneration and ecosystem repair.
Landuse is is another priority area when considering flooding issues. The problem isn't so much that the water can't exit our cities and towns fast enough, it is that it enters them too quickly. By holding water within the landscape; in fields, bogs, woodlands, hedgerows and wetlands, we can slow down the flow off the land and into the urban spaces that otherwise suffer. (see Farmscale Buffer Zone page.)
We can offer consultancy and advice, workshops and public talks on implementation of Holistic Flood Management options for your local river or stream catchment area.
Improving our own wastewater and stormwater is important, but imagine the difference you could make if you took the whole valley into account to really improve the overall water quality in your river basin or catchment. Catchment management can be used to maximise the pollution reduction and environmental protection in the whole valley for an integrated approach to improving water quality.
Reintroduction of wetlands within the river basin is one of the most straightforward ways to improve water quality and habitat value of streams and rivers, and is being increasingly practiced worldwide for flood control, pollution reduction and habitat enhancement. Introduction of other habitats such as woodlands, hedgerows and seasonally grazed grasslands can offer similar benefits. Buffer zones can be used on farmland and adjacent to any dispersed sources of pollution to offer further water filtration. Stormwater wetlands for runoff from roads and paved areas can also offer extra filtration, as can the use of effective sewage treatment within the whole area.
FH Wetland Systems can offer design and consultancy for catchment scale projects where full community participation is available. Alternatively individual, site-specific stream or river improvement projects can be carried out to improve the water quality of the catchment downstream of that point. These are useful where one landowner wishes to make positive changes without the challenges and time constraints of involving others.
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Knocknaskeagh, Lahinch, Co Clare, Ireland