Cllr Kevin Pressland: Thanet’s new builds should have mandatory rainwater catchment systems

Harvesting the rain

Green Councillor Kevin Pressland is a passionate campaigner for nature and the natural environment.  His understanding of the threats faced by the natural world is based on expertise gained from a 40-year career in horticulture, garden design and sustainable land management:

Since the millennium river/sea pollution in the UK including Thanet has been increasing. Sewage spills into England’s rivers and seas by water companies more than doubled last year. According to the Environment Agency there were 3.6 million hours of spills compared to 1.75 million hours in 2022.

The great stink which eventually pushed politicians to act only when it affected Parliament in London in 1858 eventually forced them to act. Politicians commissioned Bazalgette to create a sophisticated sewage system. This took 9 years digging up London to create 6 ‘interceptor’ sewers, which were around 100 miles long altogether. Another 450 miles of sewer fed into them. We need a much more proactive approach throughout the UK now.

Water is a resource for all species, intrinsic for all life and should not be a money tree for any companies and their shareholders. Nationalisation and massive investment with strong oversight must be implemented now. This is a serious matter and should not be kicked down the road. Saying ‘this will be addressed by 2030’ is not good enough.

Water companies claim they want to address this issue and keep saying more water is coming into the system because of flash floods.

Why then do we not have mandatory rainwater catchment systems on all new builds? These rainwater catchment systems would actually reduce over 50% of a household’s water requirement, this has been proven. Also, larger volume rainwater catchment systems should be mandatory on all commercial enterprises with bigger volume capacity tanks installed.

On other larger light industrial sites these could include soft engineering for example ponds, wetlands, suds and swales etc depending on topography, these would both reduce run off but create diverse habitats at the same time whilst improving the quality of the work environment. and

Whilst suds (sustainable drainage systems) and some other soft engineering projects have been implemented these are far short of what is needed. Also, implosion systems could be used, for example  These systems work to engender vitality and life-giving energy into the water and can improve crop productivity.

This needs government action to force water companies to pay for these rainwater catchment systems on all new builds, whether houses, commercial enterprises or new extensions, so the cost is not incurred by the developer or house or commercial property purchaser or owner of agreed new house extensions. This would also reduce long term costs for property purchasers. The rainwater tank system construction costs should be paid by water company taxes accrued by the treasury or additional fees mandatorily forced by government on water companies to comply with.

Whoever wins the next election I hope they will take this approach. I think the current government are missing a trick here if they do not do this now, I think politically it would have advantageous results. Think of the boost to the economy of new jobs including jobs in manufacturing rainwater catchment systems and installers, and the other multiplicity of benefits that could be accrued by the consumer in lower water bills long term and also the environment in helping towards safeguarding river life, sea and the environment as a whole. This is in all our interests to do, surely?  The returns to shareholders and private companies should not trump the interests of the public.

Water companies would kick against this approach as rainwater catchment systems will eventually affect their profits, but are these profits more important than the environment and reducing customers water bills?

Turkey and Tama Nadu in India have implemented mandatory regulations for rainwater catchment systems on all new builds. Germany is currently the largest market for rainwater catchment systems in Europe and its neighbours are catching up slowly, including France. The trend is clearly rising as many EU countries are increasingly impacted by rainwater issues.


  1. Absolutely right. The hundreds of new builds in Thanet are only going to add to our sewage problems.

  2. Here’s a better idea, stop building all these houses that we don’t need on our precious farmland. We all know their not for locals.

    • It’s a huge pity that we’re losing our farmland but unfortunately this was included in our local plan in order to safeguard Manston Airport.
      If the Thanet Independents, Conservatives and UKIP groups at TDC had valued farmland in 2015 as much as they claim to now – we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  3. I agree with the use of rain water catchment but one of the best ways to reduce the amount of water running of land in built up areas is to stop concreting and paving great areas of gardens. Driveways can be made sturdy by usse holed blocking like a 600 mm square of paving made like a sieve which when laid form a grid of soil /sand or gravel filed hols which let’s water through into the soil /sand below this alone can stop between 30 to 50% of rain water going into the the sewage network if you do this along with the water catchment system would buy enough time to introduce a drainage system fit for purpose. But will governments take the sensible approach and do something now and not in 5or 10 years time when it’s much to late as councillor Pressland said it needs to be sorted out now.

    • Redbridge Council (in East London) introduced such schemes many years ago. Any off-road hard standing had to be made of permeable material. Just as good for parking on, but rain water would soak through to the subsoil, rather than flashing off into (and overwhelming) the drains.

  4. Kevin if water is essential to life and ecologically important then why are so many of Thanets roadside drains silted up.The reason they are silted up is because the roads are unswept.A one hour walk a couple of months ago and I noticed that 40% of drains are silted up with weeds growing out of them.
    Upon seeing over 20 drains silted up I rang up Kent CC to report and clear.The idiots only asked me the postal code for each drain.What idiots run our country.

    • The people running our country are keen to see that our taxes are not wasted on trivia like clearing drains or fixing potholes. Rather our taxes are spent on paying £Ms on useless PPE, or £Bs on a useless railway.

  5. As a former member of the Chartered Institute of Building I remember this discussion over 50 years ago about installing “Duel Pipe” water systems in New Builds. This never took off because it was felt just too impractical, as it is, because surface water had to be piped to water treatment works, which is too costly, and impractical to install.

  6. There will be plenty of water flooding Hartsdown Road/ Coffin corner, when the fields are built on , we will be able to sail on it.

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