Transforming how the Glasgow region thinks about and manages rainfall


Culvert imageA change is happening across the Glasgow City region. It’s a change in how rainfall is managed and its helping reduce flood risk and create green infrastructure to enhance the city environment. The changes are based on a new approach that looks at how we can keep water on the surface rather than lead it through the waste water network with the aim of managing rainfall to end uncontrolled flooding and improve water quality.

The Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership (MGSDP) is leading the way in making this happen. It’s a partnership formed by organisations involved with the operation and provision of new and existing sewerage and drainage networks within the area – Scottish Water, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals, South Lanarkshire Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Clyde Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, Renfrewshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, Network Rail and SEPA.

As a founding member of this partnership, we have taken an active role across all aspects of the MGSDP with experienced staff, such as water specialist George Rattray providing water quality advice, our flood risk operation team supporting the technical delivery of projects and senior management representing SEPA on the MGSDP Board to ensure our organisation continues to support and deliver its guiding principles.

Guiding principles

MGSDP visionThe MGSDP was established in 2002 after a significant flood in Glasgow. The partnership is successful in bringing together the key organisations that can help to manage rainfall and continues to grow with new local authorities and organisations coming on board.

A new vision, which will take the partnership through to 2060, has recently been launched. The guiding principles underpinning this vision bring the concept of green infrastructure to life by viewing surface water as an asset to harness rather than a problem. Instead of putting water underground it will be channelled to create natural, green-blue areas of biodiversity that will break-up the city’s hard landscaping, enhance urban biodiversity and be a place for the public to enjoy. The presence of surface water will also contribute to the cooling of air, helping the urban environment to further adapt to climate change.

Creating green infrastructure

The Games Village, used for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, is a perfect example of how we can create green-blue corridors. Set in Glasgow’s east end, the 33 hectare site was home to 6500 athletes and team officials, and has now been converted into 300 homes for sale and 400 for social rent through housing associations. Surface water is managed by sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs) including:

  • swales (shallow, vegetated channels designed to capture and filter runoff);
  • bio-retention bays (gravel filled storage sumps designed to attenuate flows and allow a degree of treatment/filtration);
  • permeable paving;
  • highway rain gardens;
  • water feature/pond.

MGSDP project - Commonwealth Games village GIThe water feature discharges to a SUDs pond, which has been designed to retain a permanent minimum depth of water and to provide additional volume of storage during heavy rainfall, before discharging to the local watercourse (River Clyde).

The primary function of the combined elements of SUDs is to slow down the rate of discharge to the river, which reduces flood risk and allows for an improvement in the quality of the water that is being discharged. Secondary benefits are the provision of an attractive water feature, bio-amenity provision and the reduction of flows to the local combined sewer.

You can find out more about MGSDP projects and how the partnership is managing rainfall, reducing flood risk and helping create green infrastructure in the Glasgow area, on the MGSDP website.


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