rain garden on street

Redbridge rain gardens are helping reduce flood risks in the borough while boosting biodiversity

Published: 10 May 2024

Rain gardens are being installed in the borough as part of works to help reduce flood risks in Redbridge, and local people are already seeing the benefits.

The eco-friendly water drainage systems feature plants, shrubs, and other greenery, and are designed to absorb rainwater and drain it away slowly to help stop sewer systems becoming overwhelmed – one of the causes of localised flooding.

Over the last two years several locations around the borough that have been severely impacted by flooding have benefitted from the installation of rain gardens. Among them is Malford Grove, in South Woodford, where repeated reports of surface water flooding had been recorded during periods of heavy rainfall.

The council installed a rain garden at the site last summer designed to absorb surface level water, store it, and then gradually release the water into the sewer system, and it has been successfully doing the job during bouts of heavy rain.

Since being installed, there have been no reports of surface water flooding in the area, with similar results also being reported for the other rain gardens in the borough.  

The existing 11 rain gardens across the borough have the capacity to collectively absorb and store around 113,400 litres of rainwater. One five-minute shower a day uses around 40 litres of water, so that’s just under eight years’ worth of showers that can be held across the borough’s rain gardens at any one time, helping alleviate the pressure on sewer systems in the borough. 

The eco-friendly system also provides valuable habitats for wildlife in urban areas and creates more green spaces for local people due to the rain gardens attractive and natural design.

Instances of flash flooding are becoming more frequent as a consequence of climate change and while impossible to completely stop flooding, Redbridge is bolstering its resilience to it through a range of flood alleviation measures alongside rain gardens, to reduce the effects and likelihood of flooding in the borough.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability Cllr Jo Blackman said: “Redbridge is seeing the effects of climate change with more frequent bouts of flooding from torrential rain. To help reduce the impact of flash floods in our local communities we are investing in a wide range of flood alleviation measures, including the use of rain gardens, in the most impacted parts of the borough. Rain gardens are a particularly eco-friendly way to help reduce flood risks in local areas that have previously been prone to flooding, and have the added benefit of being able to blend into the environment and improve biodiversity in the borough.”

Further rain gardens have been planned for the borough as part of a package of flood alleviation works earmarked for action under Redbridge’s newly created Flood Risk Management Strategy and Surface Water Management Plan.  

For more information on the Borough's new strategies, staying flood aware, or to find out what you can do to help protect your home from flooding go to the council’s flooding web page on:  https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/flooding