Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp 2587–2602 | Cite as

Development of a suitability map for infiltration sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)

  • R. A. Dearden
  • A. Marchant
  • K. Royse
Original Article


Infiltration sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) such as soakaways and permeable pavements use the capacity of the subsurface to attenuate surface water. The implementation of SuDS is required by the Floods and Water Management Act 2010, and the associated National Standards for Sustainable Drainage prioritise infiltration over other surface water drainage methods. This paper describes the development of a nationally derived Infiltration SuDS Map that enables preliminary assessment of the suitability of the ground for infiltration SuDS. It shows that national geological and hydrogeological datasets, developed by the British Geological Survey, can be used to support early planning decisions. The map comprises 24 GIS layers that both summarise and provide subsurface information on the suitability of the ground with respect to significant flooding and stability constraints, the drainage potential and considerations relating to ground stability and groundwater protection. The map was validated using an independent database of SuDS installations and was found to accurately describe the ground conditions in all 27 cases. The Infiltration SuDS Map suggests that 34.5 % of the United Kingdom is suitable or probably suitable for free-draining SuDS, but that the potential for infiltration SuDS at the city-scale varies depending on the ground conditions. For example, 60 % of Bradford was deemed as suitable, or probably suitable for Infiltration SuDS, whereas only 19 % of the area of Leicester was similarly classified.


Sustainable drainage systems SuDS Soakaways Infiltration Suitability map 



This paper is published with the permission of the Director of the British Geological Survey (Natural Environment Research Council). The authors would like to thanks all BGS staff involved in the collection and derivation of data used in this paper, and for their assistance with the development of this methodology. In addition, we would like to thank R. W. Dearden who provided valuable comments and suggestions.


  1. British Geological Survey (2010) Digital geological map Great Britain 1:50 000, Version 6. British Geological Survey, NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  2. Bloomfield J, McKenzie A, Rutter H, Hulbert A (2007) Methodology for mapping geological controls on susceptibility to groundwater flooding. Internal Report, IR/07/072Google Scholar
  3. Booth K, Linley K (2010) Geological indicators of flooding: user guidance notes. OR/10/012, British Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  4. Butler D, Parkinson J (1997) Towards sustainable urban drainage. Water Sci Technol 35(9):53–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charlesworth SM, Harker E, Rickard S (2003) A review of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS): A soft option for hard drainage questions? Geography 88(2):99–107Google Scholar
  6. Construction Industry Research and Information Association (2007) UK SuDS Database. Accessed July 2012
  7. Coulthard T, Frostick L (2010) The Hull floods of 2007: implications for the governance and management of urban drainage systems. J Flood Risk Manag 3(3):223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dearden R, Price S (2011) A national suitability dataset for infiltration-based sustainable drainage systems. In: Savić D, Kapelan Z, Butler D (eds) Eleventh international conference on computing and control for the water industry. Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter, Exeter, pp 253–258Google Scholar
  9. Dearden R, Price S (2012) A proposed decision-making framework for a national infiltration SuDS map. Manag Environ Qual: Int J 23(5):478−485Google Scholar
  10. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2011) National Standards for sustainable drainage systems. DEFRA. Published December 2011Google Scholar
  11. Edge Hill University (2009) Estates Strategy 2009–2013, Edge Hill UniversityGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellis JB, Deutsch J-C, Mouchel J-M, Scholes L, Revitt MD (2004) Multicriteria decision approaches to support sustainable drainage options for the treatment of highway and urban runoff. Sci Total Environ 334–335, pp 251–260Google Scholar
  13. Farrant A, Cooper A (2008) Karst geohazards in the UK: the use of digital data for hazard management. Q J Eng Geol Hydrogeol 41:339–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ford J, Kessler H, Cooper AH, Price SJ, Humpage AJ (2010) An enhanced classification for artificial ground. OR/10/036, British Geological Survey Open ReportGoogle Scholar
  15. Her Majesty’s Stationary Office (2002) The building regulations 2000: approved document H—drainage and waste disposal. Office of the Deputy Prime MinisterGoogle Scholar
  16. Her Majesty’s Stationary Office 2010 Floods and Water Management Act, Chapter 29. HM Government, Her Majesty’s Stationery OfficeGoogle Scholar
  17. Hough E, Kessler H, Lelliott M, Price SJ, Reeves HJ, Bridge D (2003) Look before you leap: the use of geo-environmental data models for preliminary site appraisal. In: Moore H, Fox H, Elliot S (eds) Land reclamation: extending the boundaries. A A Balkema, Lisse, pp 369–375Google Scholar
  18. Jones P, MacDonald N (2007) Making space for unruly water: sustainable drainage systems and the disciplining of surface runoff. Geoforum 38:534–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lawley R, Garcia-Bajo M (2009) The national superficial deposit thickness model (version 5). OR/09/049, British Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewis M, Cheney C, O Dochartaigh B (2006) Guide to permeability indices. CR/06/160 N, British Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  21. Linley KA, Shaw RP, Aldiss DT, Cooper AH, Lott GK, Colman TB (2009) Mining hazards (not including coal) in Great Britain: identification and mapping Version 1. Internal report, IR/08/051, pp 184Google Scholar
  22. Makropoulos C, Liu S, Natsis K, Butler D, Memon FA (2007) Supporting the choice, siting and evaluation of sustainable drainage systems in new urban developments. Water Practice Technol 2(2):61–78Google Scholar
  23. Martin C, Ruperd Y, Legret M (2007) Urban stormwater drainage management: the development of a multicriteria decision aid approach for best management practices. Eur J Oper Res 181:338–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pitt M (2008) Pitt review: learning lessons from the 2007 floods. HM GovernmentGoogle Scholar
  25. Pratt C (1999) Use of permeable, reservoir pavement construction for stormwater treatment and storage for re-use. Water Sci Technol 39(5):145–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Single Onshore Borehole Index (2012) Single onshore boreholes index. British Geological Survey, NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  27. Walsby J (2008) GeoSure: A bridge between geology and decision makers. In: Liverman D, Pereira C, Marker B (eds) Communicating environmental geoscience. Special publication 305. Geol Soc Lond, London, pp 81–87Google Scholar
  28. Woods-Ballard, BR Kellagher et al. (2007) The SUDS Manual, Construction Industry Research and Information AssociationGoogle Scholar
  29. Ye M, Pohlmann KF, Chapman JB (2008) Expert elicitation of recharge model probabilities for the Death Valley regional flow system. J Hydrol 354(1–4):102–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© British Geological Survey - NERC 2013 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Geological Survey, Nicker HillKeyworthUK

Personalised recommendations