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Exploring new ways to manage surface water

‘Mobilising Adaptation: Governance of Infrastructure through Co production’ (MAGIC)

University of Sheffield


This project shows how people in local communities can help mitigate the challenge local authorities and water companies face from managing intense rainfall through the use of sustainable draining.

MAGIC’s work looked at ways of reducing and slowing the flow of water through Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS).

Many large-engineered SuDS are placed in the public realm. MAGIC, on the other hand, explored the potential to aid surface water management through more small-scale SuDS (such as rain tanks and rain gardens) on private land, including domestic properties.

The roof area of an average terraced house in the UK (30m²) receives 19,000–55,000 litres of rain each year.

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Children experiment with sustainable drainage

The research team worked alongside communities to design and install these small-scale SuDS on public-facing buildings in five neighbourhoods in the flood prone area of Hull and East Riding.

They examined how community-based SuDS could support and enable wider future private use.

They also examined the approach of private sector housing developers to incorporate more SuDS in new housing developments.

This research will be useful to a variety of built environment professionals, including water professionals, housebuilders, strategic and policy planners, and private planning consultants.

MAGIC was a 30 month project, trialling new ways to manage surface water. MAGIC ran from May 2020- Dec 2022 and was funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priority Fund for Climate Resilience (Grant no NE/T01394X/1). 

The research team have published several articles and other outputs which go into further details of the project