Natural Course invited to take part in international conference

 In early November 2022 Mark Turner, the Natural Course Greater Manchester team leader, was invited to the ‘storm water systems in the context of climate change adaptation conference’ at the Viimsi Artium in Estonia.

This international conference provided an opportunity for partners to present the findings and outcomes of two cross-border cooperation projects that were drawing to a close: EU LIFE Urban Storm and the Interreg Central Baltic Cleanstormwater project.

Day 1 focused on the outcomes of the EU LIFE Urban Storm project which aimed to reduce the vulnerability of Estonian cities to the effects of climate change and to increase the capacity of those cities to mitigate floods caused by heavy rainfall and rapid snow melt. Presentations were provided on the development and implementation of climate change adaptation plans by local municipalities in Estonia and Latvia. A keynote speech outlining storm water treatment solutions, their efficiency and maintenance during the winter season was also provided by Professor Godecke Blecken from the Lulea Technical University in Sweden.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on stormwater management in the context of emerging climate change adaptation plans. Mark was an invited guest to this panel – which included representatives from the municipalities of Tallinn, Estonia, and Riga, Latvia, and the head of Tallinna Vesi, the water company serving the Estonian capital and surrounding area. The discussions centred around the growing challenges of managing storm water in urban areas as rainfall patterns change and the differences in approach across the three metropolitan areas, and Mark was able to give an insight to the approaches taken in Greater Manchester.

The this was followed by visits to sites around Viimsi where sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and storm water treatment solutions have been installed as part of Urban Storm and Cleanstormwater. It included the Randvere Road parking lot where three different types of surfaces have been created to slow the flow of storm water to a neighbouring watercourse, and Viimsi’s Manor Park where nature-based solutions have been created to slow the flow and improve the quality of discharges to the Baltic Sea. Delegates also had the opportunity to see some of the features that form part of the comprehensive digitised storm water management system for Viimsi that has been set up through the two projects.

Day 2 of the conference focused on the Interreg Central Baltic Cleanstormwater project which aims to improve the management of storm water around the Baltic Sea. Presentations centred on the variety of solutions to improving storm water quality that have been trialled as part of Cleanstormwater.

The solutions showcased included the use of a vortex separator to intercept contaminated run off from a busy road on the outskirts of Riga, the Latvian capital, alongside a number of nature-based solutions including constructed wetlands on the Swedish island of Uto and a bioretention cell next to a highway in Turku, Finland.  Internet of Things technology has been tested to monitor storm water levels in wetlands around Riga and to monitor water quality parameters in the tributaries that flow through Viimsi and into the Baltic Sea. The learning from these projects has been assembled into a guide to developing a life cycle approach to storm water management as a central outcome to the Cleanstormwater project.

The conference helped to underline the importance of understanding and monitoring storm water at a very local level if effective management strategies are to be developed. The site visits in the Viimsi municipality highlighted a range of nature-based solutions alongside testing treatments for impermeable urban surfaces such as car parks to address the water quality and quantity challenges posed by storm water in municipal areas. These challenges will only increase as the climate changes. Meanwhile, the use of digital and Internet of Things technologies has enabled drainage engineers in Viimsi to monitor and manage storm water in the urban area and reduce its impact within the town and on the Baltic Sea.

SuDS features and experimental car park surface treatments at Randvere Street parking lot, Viimsi, Estonia

Randvere Street parking lot, Viimsi, Estonia

An expanded wetland area that provides nature-based solutions to storm water management challenges in Manor Park, Viimsi, Estonia.

Manor Park, Viimsi, Estonia