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Water Treatment: Reed Beds

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) Water UK, (b) water companies and (c) the Environment Agency on the use of reed-based technology. (127200)

DEFRA recognises that reed beds can usefully form part of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) and part of the process for treating foul sewage.

DEFRA is working closely with Communities and Local Government (CLG) in the development of surface water management planning as part of revised Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 25. The production of surface water management plans is being trialled by some of the partnerships within DEFRA’s Integrated Urban Drainage Pilot Projects. The 15 pilots across England, made possible by £1.7 million of funding from DEFRA, will test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding.

DEFRA is a key member of the National SUDS Working Group (NSWG), of which representatives of water companies, Water UK, the Local Government Association, the Environment Agency, developers and other organisations such as CABE are also members. DEFRA has a current work stream to examine options for resolving the combined issue of SUDS adoption, maintenance and funding and has recently consulted with the NSWG on this matter. We expect to carry out wider consultation in this regard later this year.

In respect of foul sewage treatment, the owner/operator of a sewage treatment plant is required to comply with the relevant discharge consent. The appropriate process and techniques for achieving compliance vary from location to location and are essentially decided by the owner/operator of the treatment works. Reed beds are acknowledged to be a suitable technology and are used in many situations, including at works managed by water companies (instead of, or in addition to other processes). As we look at making development more sustainable, by reducing carbon inputs, reed beds may be one of the techniques that facilitate this.