Thames Water rain gardens brighten London street, while protecting sewers from flooding

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Godolphin rain garden

Specially-designed rain gardens and pavements which absorb rainwater and slowly release it in to the sewer network have been unveiled by Thames Water in London.

The gardens in Godolphin Road, Shepherd’s Bush, are the first to be installed by the company as part of an effort to relieve pressure on sewers in the capital during periods of heavy rain.

Instead of rainwater running off hard paving and tarmac in to drains, where it can overwhelm the sewer network, it is instead soaked up in to crates installed underground and gradually let in to the network.

The gardens are fed by surrounding permeable paving which also allows rainwater to pass through the gaps between paving stones and absorb in to the base underneath.

Together they form a type of sustainable drainage system (SuDS) and are one of a number of such systems being used by Thames Water to safeguard the sewage network.

The company worked with Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA) to install the gardens and held a community planting day with residents, council staff and volunteers to plant flowers on Saturday last week (October 26).

The flowers, which include daffodils, crocus and tulips, were chosen to be colourful throughout the year and will be fed by the water absorbed by the garden.

Godolphin rain garden

Chris Butterfield, from Thames Water’s major projects team, was one of those to take part on the day. He said: “It was brilliant to see the finished outcome of the work on Godolphin Road and have an opportunity to get involved with the local residents.

“These SuDS are essential to reducing the risk of sewer flooding in the catchment area, and the rain gardens are fantastic way to showcase all the benefits the SuDS provide to the residents, especially given how the rainwater storage is hidden under the road.”

Cathy Maund, director of the HCGA, added: “The planting at Godolphin Road aims to provide all year-round colour and form for the street.

“The beds are paired in colour theme with perennials in purples and blues in one pair and yellows and oranges in the other pair. Both beds are liberally planted to make a splash of colour in spring.”

The association will now take over maintenance of the garden, while Hammersmith and Fulham Council will care for the permeable paving, which is part of Thames Water’s Counters Creek Flood Alleviation Scheme.

The scheme, which is due to be completed by March 2020, is installing paving in roads across central London, along with other flood alleviation methods including sewer upgrades and the installation of the FLIP (Flooding Local Improvement Process), a self-contained pump which can be installed at properties to transfer sewage and rainwater from private drains to larger sewers in the road, even during heavy rainfall.