You Can Slow The Flow: At Work

How businesses can contribute


Due to human development, replacing plants and soils with hard surfaces such as roofs, roads, patios and car parking, rainfall runs off much more quickly, causing surface water and combined sewer flooding, and higher river levels.

You Can Slow The Flow At Work - Development

Using SuDS to Slow The Flow in our urban areas, as well as upstream, we can mimic natural water management. Many small changes can have a big combined effect on reducing flood water quantity and quality.

You Can Slow The Flow At Work - SuDS

Quick Wins

Sign up to receive Environment Agency Flood Warnings (even if you’re not in a flood zone) so that you will be aware of when to reduce your water use to help.

Be a Water Hoarder!

Help to prevent combined sewer overflows by altering your actions during flood events to discharge less water into drains (as you might in drought – e.g. low-flush loos, use rainwater butts to clean vehicles, dry-sweep instead of hosing…)

Yorkshire Water can provide water audits for businesses.

When can we Slow The Flow?

We hope you are able to be proactive and start right away!

However, you may not have resources to do anything right now. If so, next time you repair or refurbish property, please consider SuDS.


Take a look at our ‘At Home’ information as well, for ideas that might be applicable to businesses with smaller-scale premises

SuDS Elements

(Sustainable Drainage Systems)


Permeable Surfaces

can replace car parks and paths with materials that don’t shed water, such as:

  • gravel
  • reinforced grass
  • porous surfaces
  • permeable paving
  • slabs/setts on gravel and without mortar
Permeable paving car park
Permeable gravel car park
Permeable car park
Gravel car park and swale

Extra water can sometimes be stored underneath, using a layer of stone, or in special crates

can just be a dip in a lawn, or can be planted with meadow seed and plug plants, to provide a biodiversity corner that needs mowing less often.

Swale at Olympic Park
Swale at Olympic Park


Swales can direct water to a pond, or just allow it to soak away.

are planting areas that are deliberately located where they collect run-off and store it temporarily – they become boggy in downpours. As they are dry most of the time, many everyday plants can cope with the conditions. A layer of gravel below the topsoil helps increase storage capacity.

Rain Garden York University
Rain Garden John Lewis HQ London

Rain gardens can collect run-off from paved areas, or take water from the roof via diverted drainpipes. So long as there is a plan for any overflow, they can be built over existing surfaces. Excess water can continue into the existing system, as before.


and blue roofs (without vegetation) can be put on all flat/gently sloping roofs, from large office blocks to bicycle shelters. Professional advice should be sought, to ensure loading and waterproofing are appropriately handled.

Green Roof Bike Store
Green Roof Manor Fields Sheffield

Sedum roofs and blue roofs can be lighter than biodiverse planting schemes, which need deeper soil. All can be designed to need very little maintenance.


have multiple benefits for biodiversity, air quality, aesthetics and health.

Permeable gravel tree pit

They also improve the rate at which water infiltrates the soil, and reduce erosion (preventing sediment from blocking water courses). Tree pits can be designed to store and slowly release water.

Trees in rain garden planter, London
Trees in swale, Upton

are shallow, planted areas, that are usually dry, but collect heavy rain.

They can be any scale, and can either allow the filtered water to infiltrate the ground, or send water slowly to the traditional drainage system via an outfall.

Detention basin York University

Larger Premises

Interventions for larger business premises are more likely to need professional advice – particularly if you intend to:

  • increase the volume at any outfall point
  • work very close to a permanent river or stream (within about 10m)
  • make change to a listed building or in a conservation area
  • create a green roof
  • re-use grey water in buildings
  • create reed beds to treat waste water
  • do anything that could affect your neighbours
  1. Remember we have a varied geology, i.e. water runs through sand, but if you are working with clay, it may puddle rather than soak in.

Download the printable 2-page PDF below: 

The You Can Slow The Flow resource was 2017 winner of ‘Best Project’ at the Sustainable Water Industry Group Awards. These pages have been kindly sponsored by our friends in the Calderdale Flood Partnership, through the SOURCE partnership, and created by 2B Landscape Consultancy Ltd.