Future Urban Flood Risk Management

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering



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.


10 25 50
Description The project is in its final year .

• An urban hydrology/hydrodynamic model has been developed that is capable of a continuous simulation of water on the surface, in the soil, and in the sub-surface pipe networks and groundwater. This will be extremely valuable in future water flow modelling and hence resilience within the urban environment.
• A technique has been developed to produce the effective impervious area in any urban catchment using monthly runoff coefficients. A related finding is that green, pervious areas are often under-estimated using conventional remote sensed land cover maps. This will greatly improve our future understanding of what happens to the water in the urban environment.
• A methodology has been demonstrated to systematically search the urban catchment space to link source and impact of flooding which enables a ranking of locations for the most effective intervention in runoff storage at source. This can now be developed further to incorporate runoff capture on intermediate flow paths and thereby improve real world design of flood risk management in cities.
Exploitation Route To be used by partners and practitioners in designing Blue-Green urban flood management systems.

The work pioneered in the project has been shared with practitioners through the Newcastle Learning Action Alliance for Blue Green Cities, which will carry on beyond the project lifetime with leadership from Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University and Northumbrian Water Ltd.
Sectors Construction,Environment,Transport

URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/blue-greencities/tag/floodriskmanagement/
Description CityCAT urban flood maps are being used in Newcastle and Antwerp for strategic design by multiple stakeholders. CityCAT has been used by Royal Haskoning (consultants) for a flood risk and options assessment project for the Newcastle City Council (Dec 2018) The work has contributed to the Leaning Action Alliance for Blue Green Cities in Newcastle for the duration of the project, culminating in an open meeting in 2019 where stakeholders committed to signing a declaration promoting the use of Blue Green technologies.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Construction,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Willis Research Network 
Organisation Willis Group
Department Willis Research Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Analysis and development of models for extreme rainfall and floods Regular presentations at industry forums on flooding
Collaborator Contribution In addition to financial contributions, Willis provide cases studies and datasets, as well as a platform for discussion and presentation of work to the rest of the insurance industry.
Impact Models for extreme rainfall, spatial dependence of extremes and "memory processes" in extremes.
Start Year 2011
Description Blue Green Conference and Declaration at Centre for Life, Newcastle 
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 Achieving Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future

Newcastle Dissemination Event 2019

The Blue-Green Path to Urban Flood Resilience
Thursday 7th March 2019, 09.00 - 16.30

Newcastle Centre for Life

Over the past six years, academics from leading UK Universities working on the Blue-Green Cities and Urban Flood Resilience research projects have produced world class research outputs demonstrating the multiple benefits of Blue-Green infrastructure, resilience of urban water systems under climate and population change, opportunities to use stormwater as a resource, citizens' interactions and interoperability of Blue-Green systems. In parallel, local partners in Newcastle, including Newcastle City Council, Northumbrian Water, the Environment Agency and Newcastle University, have explored what these approaches mean for the city and developed working relationships which seek to influence a Blue-Green Vision for Newcastle. This led to the signing of the Newcastle Blue and Green Declaration in February 2016.

This event showcased progress with implementation of Blue-Green infrastructure in Newcastle and the wider NE, celebrated the achievements of the Declaration signatories, and welcomed new signatories. Blue-Green infrastructure successes and ambitions were presented and the Urban Flood Resilience team disseminated their research outputs.

Keynote speakers included:
Cllr Nick Kemp (Newcastle City Council)
Richard Warneford (Northumbrian Water)
Leila Huntington (Environment Agency)
James Harris (RTPI)
Justin Abbott (Arup)
Iain Garfield (Newcastle University)
Fola Ogunyoye (Royal HaskoningDHV)
Eugene Milne (Newcastle City Council)
Ola Holmstrom (Sweco)
Lisa Stephenson (Groundwork NE & Cumbria)
Gwen Rhodes (Stantec)
Colin Thorne (University of Nottingham)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.urbanfloodresilience.ac.uk/events-news-and-blog/newcastle-dissemination-event-2019.aspx
Description Presentation at Willis Flood Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation on flood risk assessment and climate change to an insurance industry forum at Willis Insurance Brokers HQ, London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019