Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems: A Fresh Approach

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November 25, 2020 | Allison Keir

In the last five years sustainability has quickly become a major development in urban drainage design, across the globe.

For years, engineers have been experiencing the limitations of traditional pipe, pit and tank drainage. Traditional “gray” infrastructure is effective, but is also costly and disruptive to natural environments, plus deteriorating assets require constant maintenance.

Now, they are looking for a more flexible, sustainable approach.

Green Infrastructure or depending on the region, may be referred to as LID, BMP, SuDS, WSUD or spongy cities, is all about delivering multiple benefits from green spaces. By using a more thorough stormwater and flooding management system using “green” structures such as bioswales, ponds, and permeable pavements, engineers can retain effective drainage strategies while also enhancing their communities.

This in turn, is prompting the universal interest for lower impact designs that simplify the asset management of these vital infrastructures as well as provide long-term cost reductions that account for both CAPEX and OPEX.

In order to make these green designs a reality, engineers pursuing sustainable urban drainage systems need to be able to accurately and efficiently model the performance of proposed designs in line with local authorities.

The next generation of Innovyze drainage software, InfoDrainage, delivers against these goals by focusing on the four pillars of stormwater management: quantity, quality, amenity and biodiversity.

What’s the challenge? Designers need better tools and support systems

Like it or not climate change is here and it’s causing extreme rainfall, leading to an unsurmountable amount of flooding in many regions across the globe. Now more than ever engineers need effective designs and monitoring systems so that they can understand flood flow paths, resolve maintenance issues before they happen and receive faster planning approval.

Currently, the tools engineers use to design green infrastructure are not always intuitive and may not always be visually clear. If a design is not visually clear, it is not as easy to see how the designed drainage will be built and if it will meet approval standards.
Solutions that take a fresh approach to drainage will make it easy for designing engineers to review the whole network in 1D, 2D & 3D as appropriate and be able to dive-down visually into the detail of each component.

Particularly, if it is green infrastructure such as a raingarden, they want to be able to see the shape of the plan and the layers within it, allowing for communication with a wide range of stakeholders.

Ideally, engineers need software that is user-friendly with an intuitive and efficient user interface to allow flexibility in workflow. After all, time is money.

The drainage design fresh approach

To help resolve these challenges, Innovyze has developed InfoDrainage - the next generation graphical platform for drainage design that enables conformity with local standards, worldwide.

Benefits of drainage design software and how do drainage designers work:

InfoDrainage helps engineers ensure sites are viable with spatial planning at the outset, whether it’s for greenfield or brownfield sites. InfoDrainage makes it easy to analyze both CAD (computer-aided-design) and BIM (building information management) – two key areas that have become essential in drainage and infrastructure design.

InfoDrainage is a full design and analysis solution that takes engineers from initial concept through to detailed designs suitable for approvals, in a single package. It is easy to learn, with intuitive controls and clear visualizations. In addition, InfoDrainage enables data exchange with CAD and GIS platforms, to shorten the design time, leaving more time for planning and implementation.

Key Benefits

  • Hydraulically accurate: designers will get an accurate hydraulic calculation to know that the design will work as intended – the hydraulic model is the heart of the best drainage design systems and helps to deliver efficient, cost-effective designs.
  • InfoDrainage incorporates industry standard and approval-focused simulation aspects to ensure design approvals are simple and timely.
    Allows designs to combine traditional pipes and tanks with green infrastructure within the same network and for the hydraulic calculations to run all the way through.
  • Monitor water quality
  • Provides tools to assess and compare different design options or strategies.
  • Allows for iterative workflow in an efficient way– again, time is money!
  • Feeds into asset management systems and hydraulic models for the wider urban areas.
  • Allows designers to use their creativity!

Ultimately, InfoDrainage is raising the status quo by meeting the needs of modern times and preparing for the future. From sustainability to resilience, the future will mean increasing uptake of green infrastructure and using an advanced reliable software to manage assets, planning and budgeting, will be essential. InfoDrainage provides forward thinking and long-lasting solutions that are conducive to our urban environments and modern climate.

To learn more about what the future holds for sustainable drainage, click here.




About the Authors

Allison Keir

Allison Keir

Digital Content Producer


Originally from the seacoast of New Hampshire, Allison has accumulated over 10 years of experience working in film production and digital marketing for companies based out of New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston. She joined the Innovyze team in 2020 as our Digital Content Producer, focusing on blogs, videos, podcasts and various other product related articles. Inspired by her childhood love for outdoors, Allison has a personal and professional passion for environmental causes and sustainable solutions.

Jay Nelson

Jay Nelson

Marketing Content Manager


Digital technologies have the chance to change the way the world uses water. Jay is a Content Manager at Innovyze and writes about how the top challenges faced by water management professionals can be overcome using smart analytics.