The Environment Agency has published a report on Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (R.SuDS). Sustainable drainage systems have been around for a long time but more especially in the urban environment.


In rural environments, it is an approach for managing the detrimental impact of rainfall on fields and the resulting loss of sediment, chemicals, nutrients and faecal organisms that make up rural diffuse pollution.


The report was compiled by Macaulay Institute with the aim of compiling an inventory of Rural SuDS that are appropriate for use in agricultural systems. It also describes and their relative cost and effectiveness in farming systems.


The key findings are:


  • Rural SuDS are tools that help maintain and manage the provision of good water quality. They provide an important role by intercepting run-off and trapping sediment before it leaves the field.
  • An additional benefit is their ability to temporarily capture water and slow down flow. This can reduce localised flooding and provide valuable aquatic habitats in the form of micro-wetlands for farmland wildlife.
  • The measures identified in this report, offer some of the answers towards tackling diffuse pollution to improve the chemical and ecological status of surface water in the short to medium term; whilst in the longer term, they will enable land managers to adapt to intensive rainfall that is more likely with our changing climate.


I hope you find this report to be valuable in helping deliver water and biodiversity objectives. The attached presentation also gives a flavour of the content.


Paul Hickey – Head of Land & Water – Environment Agency


The main report is now available on the Environment Agency website.


If you have any queries on this report, please contact:

Jamie Letts

 Environment Agency, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol BS1 5AH.