Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths

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 We have shown the potential for re-designing standard rainwater harvesting systems to become rainwater management systems. In particular, this then extends the benefit of such systems beyond saving water to also managing flooding. We are applying this to the Newcastle case study to demonstrate the enhanced benefits.
Exploitation Route We are looking to promote installation of such systems and widespread monitoring of performance.
Sectors Construction,Environment

 
Description We have contributed to application of rainwater management systems in the Newcastle Case Study and developed an understanding of water management in the Ebbsfleet Case Study.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Construction,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Title Rainwater Harvesting System Simulator 
Description This tool enables to assess the impact of rainwater harvesting on urban water supply and flood resilience. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This tool incorporates finer resolution rainfall data sets (15 min). 
 
Title Urban Metabolism Model 
Description The metabolism model enables to intergrate urban water supply, wastewater and sewer network. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The metabolism model is applied to the Ebbsfleet Garden City, UK. 
 
Description Collaboration with Newcastle University 
Organisation Newcastle University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of flood model to assess impact of rainwater harvesting on urban flood resilience.
Collaborator Contribution Provides data sets.
Impact Flood Model - CADDIES 2D
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with University of West London 
Organisation University of West London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Urban metabolism modelling work
Collaborator Contribution Guidance on model development
Impact Urban Metabolism Model using WaterMet2 software tool
Start Year 2017
 
Description Rainwater Harvesting - Northwest Cambridge Development 
Organisation Artesia Consulting Ltd
PI Contribution Theoretical framework development on the rainwater harvesting system design
Collaborator Contribution Field measurements - Microcomponents of household water usage
Impact Interim report, present at the steering committee meeting
Start Year 2017
 
Description Rainwater Harvesting - Northwest Cambridge Development 
Organisation South Staffs Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Theoretical framework development on the rainwater harvesting system design
Collaborator Contribution Field measurements - Microcomponents of household water usage
Impact Interim report, present at the steering committee meeting
Start Year 2017
 
Description Urban metabolisam modelling 
Organisation University of West London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data collection and conceptual model development
Collaborator Contribution Guidance on the model development
Impact Interim report, Project presentation
Start Year 2017
 
Description Engagement with Thames and Southern water on Ebbsfleet water supply and waste water disposal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact We have had series of meeting with Thames Water and Southern Water on Ebbsfleet urban metabolism modeling. This allows a detailed understanding of the urban water supply and stormwater management system in the Ebbsfleet Garden city. The Thames and Southern Water are interested to support this work, as we can explore a number of plausible strategies and inform more appropriate one.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Learning and Action Alliance - Ebbsfleet 
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 15 professionals including academics, designers, water professional, council directors attended this workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Seventh International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM7) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ahilan delivers the talk on long-term performance of the Green infrastructure in the urban catchment. The talk is attended by around 100 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.icfm7.org.uk/
 
Description Sponge City Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In the blog, Sangaralingam Ahilan reports on the UK-China joint workshop on 'Urban Flooding and Sponge Cities' at the 2017 annual conference of the International Institute for Infrastructure Resilience and Reconstruction (IIIRR) held on 3-5th July 2017 at Shenzhen, China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/blue-greencities/2017/07/26/sponge-cities-conference/
 
Description The Blue-Green Path to Urban Flood Resilience 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event showcases the outputs of the Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future research project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Toward Resilient Water-Energy-Food Systems in India 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ahilan participates a workshop in Exeter on the 28th March, as part of the GCRF funded network on "Water-energy-food nexus resilience in India". As the title implies, the workshop explores how best to assess and manage resilience of the water-energy-food nexus in India (and generally).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Urban Flooding and Sponge Cities Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ahilan presented on the UK-China joint workshop on 'Urban Flooding and Sponge Cities' at the 2017 annual conference of the International Institute for Infrastructure Resilience and Reconstruction (IIIRR) held on 3-5th July 2017 at Shenzhen, China. The workshop was coordinated by University of Exeter, UK and Tsinghua University, China and funded by the British Council, Newton Researcher Links programme and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The workshop had contributions from leading UK and Chinese academics, water professionals, and early career researchers. This blog post mainly focuses on the opening day of the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/brim/brim-workshops/urban-flooding-and-sponge-cities/
 
Description Water and Environment Seminars - Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter organises the weekly seminar on water and environmental aspects every Friday. The key individuals from water industries and academics present on various topics including sustainable water to wastewater treatment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/engineering/research/cws/news-events/events/
 
Description Westcountry Rivers Trust and Centre for Water Systems show and tell: future collaborations 
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 Westcountry Rivers Trust & Centre for Water Systems showcase their case studies to explore potential collaborations. The Centre for Water Systems presents Blue-green-grey infrastructure, Twenty 65& Rainwater Harvesting, RESCCUE & SIM4NEXUS and Safe & SuRe & Flood Mangement. The West Country Rivers Trust presents on Monitoring: Upstream Thinking, Westcountry CSI, RiskAquaSoil; Local Action: LAP, CaBA, WaterLIFE; Sponge 2020 and GIS, Mapping & Modelling at WRT.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017