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Urban issues and interventions

Many of us are concerned about air pollution caused by traffic. But it’s lesser known that highways are also one of the biggest causes of water pollution. As we drive brake pads and tyres wear down, depositing microplastics and heavy metals on 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 into our groundwater via soakaways sunk down into the chalk.

Usually this pollution lays on the road unseen, but a good illustration comes with the snow.  At first pristine, white and beautiful, it quickly turns to black grey slush as all the pollutants are mixed in.

Brighton ChaMP will be creating rainscapes to demonstrate a groundwater friendly solution. These rainscapes, also known as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are sunken planted areas which capture run-off from rainfall, slow it down and naturally cleanse the water by the action of bacteria in the soil. As well as cleaning water, rainscapes can help protect against flooding, improve air quality and increase wildlife. Plus it’s much nicer to see greener streets than grey. In the first phase of the project we’ll be creating 3 of these rainscapes to protect our groundwater.

Check out this animation for an introduction to rainscapes:
https://www.youtube.com/user/susdrain

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: aimee.felus@southdowns.gov.uk

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