How do we increase public understanding of the benefits provided by SUDS?

Alison Duffy, Neil Berwick, Patricia Dello Sterpaio

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    Abstract

    Background to research
    Recent Scottish Government policy is to develop Scotland as the world’s first Hydro Nation which places more emphasis on water as central to our national identity. This agenda is
    increasing the international profile of Scotland’s skills and experience in supporting the good stewardship of water resources. There is a need to increase awareness among the
    public of the benefits that water provides and how our actions can help protect and improve them. Successful legislative and policy reform have been responsible for sustainable urban
    drainage systems (SUDS) becoming commonplace in Scotland. There is a deficit of understanding surrounding the multiple benefits which SUDS can offer communities such as pollution
    control, flood prevention, enhancement of biodiversity and wildlife habitats. Conveying an understanding of benefits to those who live within close proximity to SUDS can help lend
    acceptance to these innovative green technologies that are replacing traditional forms of drainage.

    Objectives of research
    Key CREW objectives are to develop a hydro literacy programme that:

    (a) increases public understanding of the benefits water provides and issues involved in its management
    (b) increase science engagement through community outreach/public education
    (c) support Scottish water policy.

    This project was a public outreach activity that targeted primary and secondary school children located to the north of Dundee where there are excellent examples of SUDS. The key objective was to raise awareness of the Hydro Nation agenda with a scope that was twofold: explain the urban water cycle; and promote awareness and understanding of the local SUDS and related benefits. To realise these objectives we had to ensure alignment of the science, environmental, engineering and social aspects related to SUDS with the curriculum for
    excellence and which contributed to general science experiences and outcomes.

    Key findings and recommendations
    Dissemination of the Hydro Nation Agenda and the benefits of SUDS were delivered to a total of 106 children (ages 3-10) and 14 adults. Based on feedback, the outreach programme
    to schools was deemed an unquestionable success by the Local Authority, teachers and school children alike. This was due to a strategic approach taken for the development and
    delivery of a ‘water and SUDS’ learning package that included a variety of mechanisms and activities to fit the time available and suit the knowledge level of the target audiences. This
    facilitated engagement, enthusiasm, knowledge retention and empowerment – learning whilst also having fun. Evaluation of feedback, and with hindsight, recommendations for improving
    future outreach initiatives to school children and local community groups include:
    • Timing is crucial to ensure alignment with the curriculum, particularly secondary schools.
    • Hands on sessions including experiments and digital technology related to local real world issues combined with local walks were powerful strategies that provided a direct and personal connection that engaged, promoted and embedded learning concepts and new terminology.
    • Future roll out of the initiative would be beneficial to integrate the SUDS learning package materials with current lesson plans; specifically delivery of a practical legacy teaching asset that could be up scaled/rolled out across Scotland.
    • The Community Group session was put together quickly with limited time. This was beneficial for the Group regarding imminent dialogue with Dundee City Council planners however a more organised session and discussion would have enhanced understanding of current best practice SUDS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAberdeen
    PublisherScotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW)
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    Cite this

    Duffy, A., Berwick, N., & Dello Sterpaio, P. (2015). How do we increase public understanding of the benefits provided by SUDS? Aberdeen: Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW).