Component: Infiltration trenches



Infiltration trenches are shallow excavations with rubble or stone that create temporary subsurface storage of stormwater runoff, thereby enhancing the natural capacity of the ground to store and drain water. Infiltration trenches allow water to exfiltrate into the surrounding soils from the bottom and sides of the trench.

Ideally they should receive lateral inflow from an adjacent impermeable surface, but point source inflows may be acceptable.


Advantages & disadvantages




  • Infiltration can significantly reduce both runoff rates and volumes

  • Infiltration provides a significant reduction in the pollutant load discharged to receiving body

  • Can be incorporated easily into site landscaping and fits well beside roads.

  • High clogging potential without effective pre-treatment – not for sites with fine particled soils (clay/silts) in upstream catchment

  • Build-up of pollution difficult to see

  • High historic failure rate due to poor maintenance, wrong siting or high debris input

  • Limited to relatively small catchments











Where component can be used SuDS Infiltration trench

Residential:  Yes

Commercial/industrial:  Yes

High density:  Yes

Retrofit:  Yes

Contaminated sites:  No

Sites above vulnerable groundwater: No



Peak flow reduction:  Medium

Volume reduction:  High

Water quality treatment: High

Amenity potential:  Low

Ecology potential:  Low



Infiltration techniques:

  • provide storage for runoff in an underground chamber, lined with a porous membrane and filled with coarse crushed rock.

  • enhance the natural ability of the soil to drain the water. They do this by providing a large surface area in contact with the surrounding soil, through which the water can pass.


The amount of water that can be disposed of by an infiltration trench within a specified time depends mainly on the infiltration potential of the surrounding soil. The size of the device and the bulk density of any fill material will govern storage capacity.



Runoff is treated in different ways in an infiltration trench. These include:

  • physical filtration to remove solids 

  • adsorption onto the material in the trench

  • biochemical reactions involving micro-organisms growing on the fill or in the soil.


The level of treatment depends on the size of the media and the length of the flow path through the system, which controls the time it takes the runoff to pass into the surrounding soil. Pre-treatment may be required before polluted runoff is allowed into an infiltration trench.



Infiltration trenches are easy to integrate into a site. They are ideal for use around playing fields, recreational areas or public open space. They increase soil moisture content and help to recharge groundwater, thereby mitigating problems of low river flows.



  • Regular inspection for signs of clogging

  • Removal of sediment from pre-treatment system

  • Removal and cleaning or replacement of stone.


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