Taverham residents will be protected by the latest in innovative and sustainable flood prevention measures in the future as work on the East of England’s biggest sustainable drainage system (SuDS) gets underway this week.

Anglian Water is investing over £200,000 in the SuDS scheme, which will capture rainwater and cleverly divert it into a drainage system using special plants and grasses that also slow water and provide more opportunity for it to soak away into the soil or evaporate.

The new project could take up to 21 million litres of water - more than eight Olympic sized swimming pools - out of the sewers every year and put it back into the environment naturally, considerably reducing the risk of flooding to nearby homes on Suters Drive which have been affected in the past.

Jonathan Glerum, Anglian Water’s Flood Risk Manager, said: “SuDS are becoming more common on new housing developments as a more sustainable way of preventing flooding to homes, but what’s special about this scheme is that as well as being the biggest in the east of the country, we’re retrofitting it to protect existing homes. We hope this scheme will demonstrate the potential of SuDS and encourage more schemes right across the country.”

Five ‘basins’ will be created on land in the north east of Taverham, near Ashgrove, Badgers Brook and Judge’s Garden. These will capture rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground. When it rains heavily the basins will fill up and slow the flow of water to the existing drainage system. Any excess surface water will be channelled onto a new permeable footpath from Suters Drive down to the wetland area and pond near Marriot’s Way south of Suters Drive.

Thirsty wildflower grasses and plants will be planted in the basins and in strategic places to create a larger system that slows and soaks up the water, and allows it to drain away more effectively. These basins will also help to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

The only traditional work that’s required is digging some stretches of tarmac to lay pipelines to alter the highway drainage in Suters Drive and making alterations to the footpath to make the surfaces more permeable, which will help rainwater soak away more quickly.

Jonathan continued: “As towns and cities grow, so do the hard surfaces around them and that means there’s less opportunity for rainwater to soak away naturally. We need to reinstate these natural areas to reduce the risk of flooding and SuDS are a proven method of doing this.

"Traditionally we would build bigger pipes or tanks to store the water during storms but those schemes take a long time to plan and install, they’re disruptive to residents and they are expensive.

"This SuDS scheme is not just effective; it’s also roughly half the cost of the traditional solution, which enables us to keep customer bills low. Plus, they allow you to work with nature rather than fighting against it. It’s a win-win which is why we are pioneering the technology.”

Such schemes are only possible and successful by working in close partnership with local councils.

Cllr John Fisher, Broadland District Council’s portfolio holder for environmental excellence is pleased that Taverham is one of the pioneering areas as flooding causes devastating and costly damage: “It is wonderful that Taverham will benefit from the biggest SuDS scheme in the East of England,” he said.

“This project tackles one of our district’s greatest environmental issues – flooding – but is also sustainable, helps wildlife and is one of the cheaper flood prevention measures available.

“With this project, Anglian Water is helping Broadland District Council work towards two of its four main ambitions: environmental excellence and carefully planned and well housed communities. We commend the SuDS scheme as a forward-thinking approach to water management.”

People will see Anglian Water working in Taverham from 21st July for around 13 weeks. No road closures will be needed, but there will be traffic lights on some roads, which may cause a little disruption to road users at peak times. Most of the pavement works will be carried out using barriers only though, with very little disruption at all.