A rapid review of the background to source control

Alison Duffy, Brian D'Arcy, Neil Berwick, Rebecca Wade, Roshni Jose

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

    72 Downloads (Pure)


    Background to research
    The start of the 21st Century witnessed a revolution in drainage practices with the implementation of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS). Prior to 2000, rainfall was managed by directing it away as quickly as possible in underground pipes. Increasing pressures such as watercourse pollution, stricter environmental laws, climate change and urbanisation called for a paradigm shift with Scotland leading the way for implementing SUDS. SUDS are designed to mimic natural drainage processes, managing rainfall in stages as it drains from a development. Collectively this process is called the stormwater treatment train. The first stage is source control, with stages two and three being site and regional controls respectively. Source control principally controls and treats polluted runoff at source (where the rain falls) and if designed and implemented correctly, protect watercourses and downstream SUDS through filtration, infiltration and storage. In Scotland, site and regional control SUDS have become business as usual, however uptake of the stormwater treatment train and the use of source control SUDS in practice is less routine than would be expected.

    Objectives of research
    The SUDS Working Party in Scotland is an interdisciplinary stakeholder platform to discuss issues relating to the SUDS agenda and promote their use. In 2009, a consultation paper on ‘Implementing the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act’ set out proposals to improve the sustainable management of Scotland’s water resources. The need for increased source control measures for the mitigation of diffuse pollution and climate change effects in urban areas was identified. To assist in this aspiration, the SUDS Working Party commissioned this study via CREW to identify opportunities and barriers to increasing the uptake of source control in Scotland. This report covers phase one of a three-phase study. It focuses on tracking the evolution of source control to gain an insight into enabling factors and obstacles for successful uptake of the systems. A literature review identified source control origins, the techniques available, and options for their application.

    Key findings and recommendations
    In the UK, research to validate the performance of source control measures began in the early 1990’s. This was enabled by stakeholder platforms such as the SUDS Working Party and the Scottish Universities SUDS Monitoring Group. By the mid-1990s, the SUDS concept was developed which included source control and outlined water quality, quantity and biodiversity / amenity benefits of the systems. By 2000, Scottish guidance was developed and by 2006 it became law to implement SUDS in all new developments. This was quickly followed by technical standards in 2007. SUDS for roads networks were addressed in 2010. Currently, many types of source control exist, most of which have been validated by research and are commonplace. The state of the art techniques such as rain gardens, green roofs and rainwater harvesting however, have had limited uptake in Scotland.

    It is evident that the enabling factors for the uptake of SUDS have been the result of top down drivers such as environmental initiatives and regulation. However, clarity surrounding the definition and application of source control as part of the stormwater treatment train is becoming a barrier to its uptake by practitioners. Extensive research provided a bottom up driver to validate effectiveness of the technologies for attenuating pollutants, mitigating flooding and creating habitats. Validation of emerging innovative techniques however, such as green roofs and rain gardens for different development types is limited in Scotland and this may prove to be a barrier in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAberdeen
    PublisherScotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW)
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


    • Sustainable drainage
    • SUDS
    • Source control
    • Stomwater treatment train
    • Pollution prevention


    Dive into the research topics of 'A rapid review of the background to source control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this