International research collaboration on Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)

JBA Trust recently supported research into international best practice examples of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) in five countries: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Sweden and United States.
Photo WSUD International case studies

These examples were then compared to the current situation in the UK to determine whether they could be transferred to the UK context.

The research was carried out by Nicole Friedrich Neumann, a fourth year student of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, who completed this project at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool on the Science without Borders placement programme.

Science without Borders is a Brazilian Government scholarship programme which aims to send 101,000 Brazilian students on undergraduate and PhD sandwich courses, and full PhDs to study in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and creative industries at top universities around the world.

Nicole’s work was supported by her supervisor Dr Karen Potter at the University of Liverpool and Charlotte Beattie at JBA Consulting where Nicole was based for part of her placement.

Nicole’s research found that the WSUD characteristics that are most likely to be successfully transferred to the UK context are strong legislation, giving more decision influence to planners and engaging citizens.

The key recommendations for the UK based on international case studies of WSUDs are:

  • Analyse the whole life cycle of SuDS using appropriate tools
  • Better education of water professionals and policy planners to increase the uptake of WUSDs.
  • Develop and implement national standards.
  • Avoid the use of piped systems and use retrofit SuDS instead.

Karen Potter said: The placement widened the experience I could offer Nicole, rather than ‘pure’ academic research, working wiith JBA allowed Nicole to see how good practice is conveyed and used in the industry; how it is used to help solve ‘real life’ issues. I was particularly interested that Nicole had observed (unprompted) the strong lines of communication between the multi-disciplinary team in the office environment; a valuable, early insight into the wider skill set required as an Engineer when she graduates. A huge thank you to Charlotte and colleagues at JBA Consulting and JBA Trust for this opportunity.

Charlotte Beattie said: Nicole approached her project “challenge” in a very positive and pragmatic manner, providing great insight into her project findings in her presentation and the following discussions. The outputs provide a simple but critical analysis, displaying a sound knowledge of the research challenge and case studies.  The project successfully integrated Nicole’s academic approaches at the Federal University of Catarina and the University of Liverpool and the spectrum of projects and skills being used in practice at JBA. The results and findings demonstrated that the collaboration worked well for Nicole and I hope we will keep in touch during her final year of studies.

Nicole has now returned to Brazil to finish the final year of her Engineering degree.  Nicole commented on how the project had really opened her eyes to the ‘messy and complex’ institutional context, rather than just studying technical solutions. Following the international best practice review, she said she will be looking at Curitiba through ‘fresh eyes’ when she returned home.

Download the project summary poster here