Urban Flood and Water Resilience in an Uncertain Future

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Energy, Geosci, Infrast & Society

Abstract

Summary

The engineering core of this project couples an array of carefully selected, physics-based models to support investigation of how stormwater cascades through a city's drainage system, accounting for the dynamics of not just water, but also sediment, debris, natural solutes and contaminants carried by urban runoff. Based on the capability of this suite of models to simulate water flow, storage and quality within an urban system, we will investigate how the performance of grey systems (composed mainly of lined channels, pipes and detention tanks) can be improved by adding Blue-Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) to create treatment trains designed to manage both the quantity and quality of urban runoff. Models and design solutions will be developed and tested in the contexts of retro-fit (as part of urban renewal and uplift in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and new build (as part of creation of a 'garden city' in Ebbsfleet, Kent). Our intent is to work out and demonstrate how resilience to floods and droughts can be achieved using integrated systems of Blue-Green and Grey assets, no matter how climate changes in future, assuring continuous, long term service delivery.

The work will adopt throughout a whole systems perspective that recognises interdependencies with other urban systems, including transport, energy and land-use. This will identify new opportunities for managing stormwater as a resource that will then be explored. This will add to the multi-functional benefits of using Blue-Green infrastructure to manage flood risk by increasing water security. Possibilities range from non-potable uses in homes or commercial buildings (based on rainwater harvesting) to irrigating green infrastructure (e.g. street trees), managing subsidence in clay soils, soil moisture enhancement and groundwater recharge. Wider benefits may extend to local energy generation using drainage infrastructure (i.e. micro-hydropower) and enhancement of urban watercourses and ecosystem services.

The models and protocols developed will form the basis for assessment of the potential for the optimised combinations of Blue, Green, Grey and smart infrastructure to deliver multiple-benefits in UK cities nationwide.

However, the goal of optimising urban flood and water management can only be achieved through a deep understanding citizen and community preferences with respect to managing flood risk. In short, engineering solutions must be better informed and explicitly accounted for in urban planning and development at all spatial scales. For this reason, our research will extend to investigation of the planning, development and organisational systems that govern urban flood risk management. This will be addressed using Participatory Action Research and Social Practice Theory to examine the attitudes and responses of citizens and communities to innovation in flood and water management, with the context of urban planning.

This aspect of the work is essential to underpin and enable implementation of the engineering analyses and solutions identified in the core research outlined above.

The mechanism for bringing together engineering, social and planning components of the project will be co-location research in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Ebbsfleet, Kent. Team research in these case study cities will establish how barriers to innovation can be overcome despite uncertainties in future urban climates, land-use, development and political leadership. Critical engagement with planners, developers and land-owners throughout the project will feed back and inform the core engineering focus of the work, building on the current trend towards the development of urban infrastructure observatories to explore responses to the innovative changes needed to achieve urban flood resilience.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project to explored the scope for retrofitting SUDS on industrial estates to manage water quality problems, and is focused a large Huston Industrial Estate. The key outcomes are: 1. Greater understanding of the awareness of SUDS technology and relevant regulations; 2. Worked with business/land owners to understand what types of SUDS would be suitable within the risks and any constraints presented at the site; and 3. We understand better the willingness to install and evaluate the role incentives can play

We also investigated how different blue/green infrastructure investment pathways and future land use change scenarios affect the natural capital in the London Borough of Sutton. This showed that it is possible to develop areas whilst also limiting the negative impacts on nature.

The project also studied the ecology of SUDS ponds in an effort to better understand the multiple benefits they provide.
Exploitation Route The works shows that installing green infrastructure in new and existing developments can reduce their environmental impact.
Sectors Construction,Environment

 
Description Findings from the project are contributing to a proposal to produce a national policy on how SUDS / Green Infrastructure can be retrofitted to industrial estates and be part of new developments to reduce pollutant impacts on watercourses.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Construction,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description IAPETUS2 - Impact of blue/green infrastructure interventions and future land use scenarios on dynamic evolution of natural capital
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Durham University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 09/2023
 
Description Investigation of the potential for SUDS retrofitting at Industrial Estates
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales (CREW) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Title HIE SuDS Questionnaire DB 
Description A questionnaire was designed to gauge awareness of SuDS technology and relevant pollution regulations. The questionnaire had a 'Yes/No' format, and contained a checklist of 10 types of SUDS features, asking for a response to two categories of prompts - is the company familiar with the technique and is there an example of it on their premises at Houston? Colour photographs were used to aid recognition of specific features. This questionnaire was posted or emailed to the majority of premises on Houston Industrial Estate (HIE), and delivered by hand when that was not possible or when no response to the original letter was received. To date, more than 60 responses have been received and encoded within a Microsoft Access database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The following information will be disseminated through a conference publication. Preliminary analysis of the results revealed that 14.75% of the companies claimed familiarity with SuDS technology, whilst 9.84% of all comapanies appeared to be truly unfamiliar with it. However, the majority of the companies (75.41%) appeared to be familiar with specific SuDS features illustrated on the checklist, but were unfamiliar with the term 'SuDS'. The majority of these companies (50) were familiar with more than one feature, and many ticked more than half of the SuDS types offered on the list. However, many of the potential plot techniques were unfamiliar to most companies. The Experience of flooding did not appear to be a decisive factor influencing awareness of SuDS. Less than a quarter of all companies were aware of general binding rules (GBR) regulating pollution prevention at industrial sites, and ownership of the premises did not appear to be a decisive factor influencing that knowledge. Our observations, and analysis of the questionnaire results also revealed that some of the newer premises already have SUDS. These are predominantly areas of permeable pavement and, to a lesser extent, gravel filter drains. A number of companies also claimed ownership of some other SuDS features (e.g. detention basin), but that has not as yet been verified on inspection. 
 
Description Collaboration with Midlothian Ranger Service 
Organisation Mid-Lothian Council
Department Midlothian Ranger Service
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution HW team carries out monitoring of a number of Green Infrastructure features, and one of the study sites is located within the jurisdiction of midlothian ranger service. The data are, therefore, useful for their records and aid understanding of the patterns of environmental dynamics and ecological functioning of the site.
Collaborator Contribution Midlothian Ranger Service has provided logistical support as regards access to the site, and shared very important information.
Impact to follow
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Open University 
Organisation Open University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provide logistical and advisory support for a mature student Derek Christie who takes part in our investigations of SuDS plankton
Collaborator Contribution Derek provides an invaluable contribution by processing pond samples, compiling photographic evidence, and taking part in identification of planktonic species and assessing their relative abundance.
Impact Derek is a coauthor on a number of our presentations (inlcuding the forthcoming public dissemenation event in Newcastle) and also on the paper submitted for the ICONHIC conference proceedings.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with RBGE 
Organisation Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Within the UFR consortium, Heriot Watt team is conducting a monitoring and modelling study on a number of features of Blue-Green infrastructure, including SuDS and natural ponds. Cooperation with RBGE is mutually useful in that respect, as it sharing the information and expertise. RBGE has also been one of our study sites
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation with RBGE has been very useful, and HW team benefited from expert advise of David Chamberlain, Rebecca Yahr, Liz Kungu and Peter Brownless, among others.
Impact To follow
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with SRUC 
Organisation Scotland's Rural College
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Kayoko Takezawa, a Master student from SRUC supervised by Gerard O'Brian, has taken part in our field work and has contributed to research by investigating the occurrence of epiphytic lichens and introduced plants at SuDS sites.
Collaborator Contribution We have provided logistical and advisory support
Impact This collaboration contributed to the results reported in a submitted conference paper
Start Year 2019
 
Description Secondment in Oregon, USA, hosted by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council 
Organisation Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Research on Whychus Creek watershed comparing geomorphological, physical and biological characteristics and overall functioning of the restored, transitional and unrestored reaches.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of accommodation and transport for field work. Provision of literature on the local ecosystems
Impact My efforts contributed to the overall research project, which ultimately has led to a number of presentations and public dissemination activities. The specific details can be obtained from the host organisation.
Start Year 2018
 
Description West Lothian Council 
Organisation West Lothian Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis of data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data
Impact Potential drivers for retrofits identified so far include the potential for reduced water charges, and the scope for capturing rainfall for use in a technological process (including wash waters). Among the initial barriers identified so far are the lack of awareness, time and logistical constraints, branch mentality, and the lack of incentive. A detailed consideration of barriers will be a subject for further work.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Edinburgh Living Landscapes GI Practitioners Event, Edinburgh (October 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was, essentially, a working group meeting related to the Green Infrastructure. The participants provided updates on their relevant activities, which followed by discussion, and planning for the future
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Internet Blog devoted to the SUDSnet conference and Heriot Watt Research on retrofitting SUDS at industrial premises 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Internet Blog devoted to the SUDSnet conference and Heriot Watt Research on retrofitting SUDS at industrial premises: http://www.sgif.org.uk/index.php/news-and-events/blog/239-sudsnet-2018
Basically, it is promoting SUDS, as well as aiming to disseminate the research conducted by the Heriot Watt team
Please note that the original version of the blog is at http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/blue-greencities/2018/09/18/sudsnet-international-conference-and-network/
but there is also an alternative (copy) version at the SGIF:
http://www.sgif.org.uk/index.php/news-and-events/blog/239-sudsnet-2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/blue-greencities/2018/09/18/sudsnet-international-conference-and-netwo...
 
Description Poster presentations at Heriot Watt and Edinburgh University Postdoctoral Forums 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This entry relates to the poster presentations (on BGI/SuDS ponds) at Postdoc forums
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Presentation at the SUDSnet conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a presentation at the SUDSnet conference:

Vladimir Krivtsov, Brian J. D'Arcy, Scott Arthur and Chris Semple (2018) Potential for retrofitting SUDS at Houston Industrial Estate, Livingston, West Lothian. Presentation at the SUDSnet conference, Coventry, UK, Aug 2018. Abstract published in the book of abstracts, and the presentation is available at https://issuu.com/abertayuniversity/docs/sudsnet2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://issuu.com/abertayuniversity/docs/sudsnet2018
 
Description Presentations at SUGIR meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact These entry relates to the meetings of SUGIR (Scottish Universities Green infrastructure Research Group). On behalf of HW team, I have made a number of presentations related to our research ob retrofitting SuDS at Houston Industrial Estate, and on the functioning of SuDS ponds around Edinburgh and Lothians.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Presentations at TWIC conferences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Poster presentations and short talks on the TWIC conferences, intended to provide information on the BGI/SUDS research, in particular as regards investigations of their biodiversity value and provision of ecosystem services
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description SNIFFER workshop - I gave a talk at this Scottish Goverment funded event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a session for the SNIFFER Flood Risk Management conference (30-31st January 2020) on SUDS / Blue-Green cities. I spoke about how the impact of high density development can be mitigated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.hutton.ac.uk/blogs/h2ohutton/shining-light-latest-flood-risk-management-scotland