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15 years of CIRIA CPD SuDS training 

Steve Wilson, Technical Director The Environmental Protection Group Ltd and CIRIA trainer discusses the evolution of SuDS good practice.

I recently had reason to look into our file archive and noticed that the first CIRIA SuDS training course was delivered in 2005.  Back then SuDS was in its infancy and there was a lot of material condensed into one four day course.  Bob Bray (Robert Bray Associated) , Paul Shaffer (CIRIA Associate) and I enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of Loughborough University and even included an impromptu SuDS field trip and practical exercise into the course when we noticed it had a series of swales and ponds in the grounds near the training venue.  

16 years ago very few schemes had been constructed in the UK but Bob and I had been on a field trip to see SuDS and meet practitioners in the USA as part of the research for CIRIA guide C609 Sustainable drainage systems. Hydraulic, structural and water quality advice.  We drew heavily on those examples and the experience of people we met for the first round of training.  We were also joined by various guest speakers to cover specialist areas in more detail.  The course fees included dinner in the evenings and I remember some lively discussions over dinner and drinks.  Some of the key topics at the time were approaches to adoption, what maintenance was required for SuDS and whether permeable pavements were sufficiently durable.  The training included worked examples on real sites that we had worked on and that had been constructed to give a good flavour of the practical issues that people encounter in their day to day work.

With time the demand for a four day course reduced and the training is now split into two modules; SuDS Fundamentals and SuDS design.  We have also developed different courses, for example on SuDS construction, and brought in new trainers such as Anthony McCloy (McCloy Consulting), Sue Illman (Illman Young) and Kevin Barton (Robert Bray Associates).  The content has continuously been updated and changed in line with new CIRIA guidance and changes in Legislation or British Standards.  We have also developed specific modules for each Devolved Region of the UK in recognition of the different legislative framework.  Keeping the training content up to date is important to us all.  The worked examples have changed and we now have many good examples of SuDS in housing which was non-existent in 2005.  So the training has adapted and some of the key topics we get questions on in 2021 are……..

approaches to adoption
what maintenance was required for SuDS 
whether permeable pavements were sufficiently durable.

We are in a much better place with regards to adoption now that the Sewerage Sector Design and Construction Guidance includes SUDS and many water companies are looking to adopt them and now understand the benefits they can gain from SuDS.  In Wales the statutory framework is much stronger than in England and SuDS Approval Bodies (SABS) will adopt SUDS.  The industry has a wealth of experience in maintaining a whole range of SuDS features and there is a wealth of information on maintenance costs (this is all referenced on the SUSDRAIN website), but there is obviously still a need for training to allow people to be aware of these resources.  Permeable pavements are one of the most researched SUDS features and we now know that long term clogging is not a significant issue and that they can provide a durable long lasting solution.  Again education and training is needed to make everyone in the industry aware of these things.  

What would really help is for Universities to include SUDS in degree courses for a range of professionals such as civil engineers and landscape architects.  I deliver a lecture on SuDS each year to Nottingham Trent University students but the time is limited.  How about a full time integrated MSc level engineering and landscape design/urban planning course for surface water management professionals? 

CIRIA offers the following SuDS training courses:
SuDS Foundation
Designing SuDS
Construction and inspecting SuDS
Developing SuDS: securing SuDS through planning (facilitation workshop for local authorities)