Over 40 schools across the Southern Water region have teamed up with us to install special ‘water slowing’ solutions on their grounds – so the sewer network is protected during and after heavy rainfall.
By slowing the flow of surface water from hard surfaces like classroom roofs and playgrounds, sewers are less likely to see huge jumps in volume in short timeframes – which can go on to trigger the use of storm overflow releases into the environment to protect homes, businesses, schools and communities from flooding.
Thanks to a £1.7m project jointly funded by Southern Water and the Department for Education, schools across Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have had sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) installed.
Pupils have welcomed the arrival of raingarden planters and water butts over recent months, providing an alternative to water being directly channelled into drains and then the combined sewer network.
The project has also provided an opportunity for Southern Water to engage with school pupils and staff on other issues, including flooding protection and water use.
Among the schools benefitting is Mundella Primary School in Folkestone, which has had five raingarden planters installed.
Headteacher Frazer Westmorland said:
“As part of our ongoing commitment to reducing waste and supporting environmental strategies, we are thrilled to have support from Southern Water, enabling us to add these new SuDS to our school.
“Not only will the addition of these units, in the form of planters, reduce the amount of rainwater going into our already overwhelmed drainage systems, the SuDS will also develop pupils' understanding of how we can contribute to sustainable environmental strategies.
“The children will also be able to use them to learn about growing different plants and, furthermore, they will add some well needed green to our mostly concrete and brick playground.“
The project is just one of many ways Southern Water is looking at working to reduce storm overflows through projects led by its Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force.
Southern Water’s Project Lead Nicole McNab added:
“This is a fantastic project that showcases how crucial partnership working is. I’d like to thank the schools, students and staff for participating in the scheme, as well as the Department for Education for establishing the programme.
“All the schools involved are helping to slow the flow of rainwater entering our network, and we have seen real enthusiasm from all taking part. It has given us a great opportunity to explain the work we’re doing to reduce flooding and storm overflows to a younger audience and answer any questions teachers may have. We’re working together to reduce storm overflows and protect our rivers and seas.”