"Measures involving physical interventions to reduce surface water flooding, typically, but not exclusively, in an urban environment, such as enhancing artificial drainage capacities or though sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)." (EC 2013: Guidance for Reporting under the Floods Directive)

EXAMPLE: Constructed wetlands to compensate for urbanization in souther Finland (FIN)

In Finland urban wetlands are being implemented to help improve water quality, absorb storm water volume and flow control, and improve the land-water habitats for urban communities. The wetlands are designed to respond to the needs and negative impacts of urbanization and therefore, public acceptance and multifunctional benefits are central to the design and implementation of the wetlands. The acceptance and understanding of the importance of urban dwellers is important and thus the project sought to demonstrate several benefits of functional wetlands.

EXAMPLE: The Ekostaden Augustenborg initiative, Malmö (SWE)

Augustenborg is a highly populated neighbourhood in Malmö, Sweden. In order to minimise flood risk, between 1998 and 2002, the ‘Ekostaden Augustenborg’ initiative installed a ‘Sustainable Urban Drainage System’ (SuDS). As part of the project, green roofs, ditches, retention ponds, green spaces and wetlands were created. Due to the installation of the SuDS, rainwater run-off has decreased by half.

Rainwater harvesting

Water harvesting is when rainwater or stormwater is collected and stored for productive use later. It can be used for agriculture, drinking and more. Historically, rainwater harvesting is a common practice and has been used by many communities to support agriculture in sensitive and variable climates.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)

Approaches to manage surface water that take account of water quantity (flooding), water quality (pollution) biodiversity (wildlife and plants) and amenity are collectively referred to as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS). Such drainage systems not only help in preventing floods, but also improve water quality. In addition they can enhance the physical environment and wildlife habitats in urban areas.

Land and soil management practices

Soils face various risks related to erosion and pollution, however, adopting good land and soil management practices can help mitigate these negative impacts and in some cases can improve the overall productivity of soils. Such practices generally seek to improve soil structure and/or increase cover so as to reduce erosion, increase soil infiltration, and reduce runoff and transport of sediments. 

Drainage system management

Urban drainage systems need to be able to deal with both wastewater and stormwater whilst minimizing problems to human life and the environment, including flooding. Urbanization has a significant effect on the impact of drainage flows on the environment: for example, where rain falls on impermeable artificial surfaces and is drained by a system of pipes, it passes much more rapidly to the receiving water body than it would have done when the catchment was in a natural state. This causes a more rapid build-up of flows and higher peaks, increasing the risk of flooding (and pollution) in the receiving water. Many urban drainage systems simply move a local flooding problem to another location and may increase the problem. In many developed counties there is a move away from piped systems, towards more natural systems for draining stormwater.