Groundwork Yorkshire is working in partnership with Yorkshire Water to deliver a surface water management programme installing innovative water butts. The project will make rainwater from homes enter the sewers slower in times of heavy rain. This is part of a bigger plan to reduce storm overflows in Ilkley.

Typically, water butts are installed to capture rain running off roofs, to allow gardeners to save water for use during dry spells. The water butts we’ve installed in areas of Ilkley, Addingham and Ben Rhydding still fulfil this function. However, they’re also designed to slowly release half of the captured water, providing capacity to hold fresh rainfall and reduce the likelihood of the sewerage system becoming overwhelmed.

The 150 free water butts have been given to households, free of charge, in areas where sewer monitoring can evidence the impact that these devices are having on the sewerage network. This will allow us to measure and understand the benefits of this programme, which may lead to further similar initiatives being delivered in the future.

In addition to supplying and installing the water butts, Groundwork’s landscape architects have designed a rain garden to be created later in the year with pupils at Ashlands Primary School. This will demonstrate how larger volumes of water can be safely captured and allowed to filter into the ground. An education programme linked to the water cycle, water industry, water conservation and climate change will also be provided for the school.

Peter Murphy, Operations Director at Groundwork Yorkshire said “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Yorkshire Water on such an innovative project, that provides both environmental and educational benefits in Ilkley. I hope that the learning from this pilot project delivers long-term outcomes for the residents and leads to similar initiatives across the region.”

Mark Gregory, Project Manager at Yorkshire Water said “We are thrilled to have worked with Groundwork Yorkshire, who have worked hard, to deliver this project. We will be monitoring and assessing the benefits of the water butts and the “slowing of the flow” into the sewerage network over the coming months. We are hoping that the results will build a business case for rolling this initiative out to more homes in the future.”

Yorkshire Water