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Urban issues and interventions

Many of us are concerned about air pollution caused by traffic, but roads are also one of the biggest sources of water pollution. As we drive, brake pads and tyres wear down, depositing microplastics and heavy metals on to the road. Oils and fuel leak from some cars, adding to the pollution on the road surface. When it rains this is washed down the drains, and in some areas, directly into our groundwater via soakaways in the chalk.

Usually this pollution lays on the road unseen, but can be very noticeable when it snows. At first pristine, white and beautiful, it quickly turns to black grey slush as all the pollutants are mixed in.

Brighton ChaMP plans to create rainscapes to demonstrate a groundwater-friendly solution. These rainscapes, also known as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are planted areas which capture run-off from rainfall, slow it down and naturally cleanse the water with vegetation and by the action of sunlight and bacteria in the soil. As well as cleaning water, rainscapes can help protect against flooding, improve air quality and increase wildlife. And it’s much nicer to see greener streets than grey. In the first phase of the project we plan to create three rainscapes to protect our local groundwater.

Check out this animation for an introduction to rainscapes:

As well as dealing with highway pollution we’re also talking to urban land managers, allotment holders and gardeners to encourage reduced fertiliser and chemical use, and engaging with businesses to encourage good practice to protect groundwater. We’ll be at events to chat to members of the public and raise awareness of groundwater and how we can all help protect this vital natural resource.

For more information contact the Project Manager: