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Water Management Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Volume 167 Issue WM1 Water Management 167 January 2014 Issue WM1
Pages 3037
Realising the benefits of integrated urban Paper 1200083
drainage models Received 07/07/2012 Accepted 19/11/2012
Published online 23/04/2013
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and Keywords: floods & floodworks/risk & probability analysis/sewers & drains
ICE Publishing: All rights reserved

Realising the benefits of

integrated urban drainage
1 Christopher J Digman BEng, PhD, CEng, MICE j
4 David J Balmforth BSc, PhD, FICE, FCIWEM
Senior Principal Engineer, MWH, Paragon Business Village, Executive Technical Director, MWH, Terriers House, High Wycombe,
Wakefield, UK UK
2 Nicholas Anderson BEng, CEnv, MCIWEM, CWEM j
5 Stephen Kenney BEng
Principal Engineer, MWH, Melbourne House, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Technical Director, MWH, Dominion House, Temple Court,
3 Gwen Rhodes MSEng, PE Warrington, UK
Senior Engineer, MWH, Melbourne House, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

1 j
2 j
3 j
4 j

Managing urban flood risk can be complicated owing to drainage system interaction, and modelling these
interactions has until recently been confined to relatively small areas. The interactions between the above- and
below-ground systems can be crucial when predicting where flooding occurs. Recent advances in computational
power and software has enabled, for the first time, detailed modelling of below- and above-ground drainage
systems, across city-wide applications. A case study of integrated modelling across Glasgow is presented. A
hierarchical approach to modelling flood risk is taken, initially using a coarse topographical model linking with
available sewer and watercourse models. Hot spot areas are identified using a consequence assessment to identify
communities to consider in more detail. Five communities are selected for more detailed analysis, where a more
detailed integrated model is used to assess flood risk and annual average damages. A hierarchical solution
development approach is applied to test solutions in stages. Using flood risk and assessing damages enables a
benefit assessment of potential solutions across a wider area for a range of events. The work demonstrates that
techniques, ideas and innovative solutions are now able to be drawn together in a truly integrated approach to
managing flood risk.

1. Introduction flooding standard, rather than using the surrogate pipe full
The floods in Glasgow in 2002, plus those in England and Wales capacity.
in 2007, dramatically illustrated the impact of pluvial flooding in
urban areas and demonstrated why a long-term integrated ap- In large urban areas the drainage systems can be complex,
proach to urban flood risk management is needed in the UK. because they have often evolved in an ad hoc manner. Frequently
Surface water in urban areas is predominantly conveyed below they consist of both combined and separate drainage, open and
ground using combined and surface water sewers. Historically culverted watercourses, pumping stations, overflows and other
these drainage systems have been sized based on a design ancillary structures. Although designed to drain developed areas,
conveyance capacity. In the last two decades of the twentieth they often drain parks and gardens, and in some cases consider-
century, this simplistic approach was largely replaced by computer able upstream rural areas. Moreover, in extreme events, above-
modelling to size the drainage systems appropriately, thereby ground pathways, consisting of roads, paths and grass-ways are
providing flood protection to properties to an agreed design able to convey large volumes of storm water runoff. These
standard. By simulating the performance of the existing drainage excessive volumes of storm water can accumulate on the surface,
system, various intervention measures could be tested to deter- often causing substantial damage to property and infrastructure
mine their influence on overall flood protection. This allowed and resulting in significant economic and social loss; these effects
improvements to be selected on the basis of offering a level of were seen in Glasgow (FWR and WaPUG, 2003) and England
protection inside and outside properties, based on a predetermined and Wales (Chatterton et al., 2010; Pitt, 2008).

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

If urban areas are to support safe and secure communities in the completion of the Glasgow surface water management study
future, flood risk needs to be effectively and sustainably managed. (GSWMS) by MWH and Halcrow.
The spatial and temporal complexities of modern drainage systems
need to be replicated (Dawson et al., 2008) so the performance of In Glasgow, the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Part-
the individual components that collectively influence flood risk nership (MGSDP) seeks to promote integrated urban design that
can be accurately identified. This in turn will allow appropriate can contribute to sustainable urban regeneration and the well-
integrated measures to be implemented in a timely manner. being of communities through the improvement of surface water
management in both a water quality and flood risk context.
2. Developing an integrated approach to
urban drainage modelling The purpose of the GSWMS was to provide strategic direction to
Over the last 10 years there has been substantial development in support the development of sustainable drainage improvements
the capability of urban drainage models. Building on the early across Glasgow. This was achieved through taking a hierarchical
simulation models of the 1980s (DoE and National Water integrated urban drainage modelling approach to identify flood
Council, 1981; Lindburg and Jrgensen Willemoes, 1986), mod- risk, select areas for further investigation and develop outline
ern simulation engines are able reliably to represent the hydrol- solutions that underpinned retrofit surface water management
ogy of the many land use types found in urban areas. Most now guidance for other teams to follow.
solve the full St Venant equations, thus allowing for and
replicating the gradually varied flow profiles found in drainage This GSWMS work underpinned the development of guidance
systems (Allitt et al., 2009). The transition from free surface to for the MGSDP (2012): Surface Water Management Retrofit
surcharged (pressurised) flow is often dealt with using the Measures. The MGSDP publication of this guidance is one of the
Preissmann slot method (Preissmann and Cunge, 1961) and this strategic integrated urban design technical planning tools recom-
then allows the hydraulic gradient to be consistently replicated, mended for use by a wide range of multi-disciplinary profes-
which in turn means the flood volume discharged at the surface is sionals working for the MGSDP to improve co-operation and
more reliably reproduced. understanding between spatial planners and water managers. It
presents clearly reasoned arguments and an approach to deliver
For a number of years the performance of urban drainage systems multiple benefits and opportunities for translation into integrated
was defined by the frequency and volume of flooding from urban spatial and water planning concepts. These may inform
manholes and gullies on to the surface. However, as computa- robust design, technical development and implementation, and
tional power improved, and digital terrain model (DTM) data achieve simultaneous vesting and adoption within metropolitan
became available, algorithms were developed to replicate the Glasgow.
transport of flood volumes overland through the solution of the
shallow water wave equations (e.g. Alcrudo and Mulet, 2005; 3. Applying integrated flood risk modelling
Bradbrook et al., 2004; Liang et al., 2007). Moreover, the to Glasgow
algorithms in river models and drainage models were also coming Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland with a population of over
closer together, which has now enabled fully coupled river and 1.4 million. In 2002 Glasgow suffered from major flooding,
pipe network systems in integrated models to be developed (Allitt causing substantial damage and disruption to business, infrastruc-
et al., 2009; Leandro et al., 2009). ture and housing. Total damage was estimated at 100 million
(FWR and WaPUG, 2003). A subsequent analysis of the flooding
Integrated models bring a number of important benefits to practi- showed that both the watercourses and pipe drainage systems had
tioners concerned with managing urban flood risk. First, they been overwhelmed by the volume of runoff from a storm, with an
enable the flooding mechanism and cause to be better understood. estimated return period of between 50 and 100 years. In some
Second, they allow an objective assessment of flood risk to be locations flooding was attributed to direct surface runoff, that is
made on the basis of probability (flood frequency) and conse- runoff that never reached a formal drainage system. Following
quence (flood damage). Third, because they can more accurately this flood event was the realisation that, if future flood risk was to
replicate the whole of the flooding mechanism, they allow a much be adequately managed, a detailed and integrated approach to
greater range of intervention measures to be tested. This is flood risk management was needed. A consortium of responsible
especially true when a good level of detail is present in the bodies, now known as the MGSDP, was formed to take this
below- and above-ground system, creating more accurate flood forward.
risk predictions (Gokhale et al., 2009). Integrated models still
present a challenge, however, when flood risk has to be managed It was agreed for this study that an integrated model for the
across major urban areas. Here the volume of data that is needed greater Glasgow area was needed that could deliver the following
and the computational time that can be expended need to be features
effectively managed if the many benefits are to be realised. How
this can be achieved in practice is illustrated with a recent j represent pipe drainage assets in sufficient detail to identify
application to the City of Glasgow, Scotland, following the where inflows exceeded conveyance capacity

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

j represent open and culverted watercourses in sufficient detail hot spots were identified by assessing the consequence of
to identify where flooding occurred potential property damage for the 30- and 100-year return period.
j identify surface flood pathways over which flood flow is A scoring system was used to differentiate the impact of the
conveyed in extreme events flooding and highlight the worst areas. A threshold of 20 mm was
j replicate the effects of scale and type of the many different used to represent where water could cross a property boundary
contributing areas which generate storm runoff during rainfall (based on MasterMap layer polygons). This threshold was equiva-
events lent to a 300 mm depth in a 20 m2 mesh element. Property
j represent base flows of waste water and infiltration to a impact scores were dependent upon property type, differentiating
sufficient degree. between residential, business and commercial, and critical infra-
structure. The hot spots were also validated against known areas
Simplistic techniques can be used to initially pin point potential of historic flooding.
flooding areas (Digman et al., 2008); however, these do not
properly account for the below-ground drainage system perform- The coarse grid model was used to trace the upstream contribut-
ance, which the GSWMS indicated is important. Therefore an ing areas and drainage networks that generate the storm flow
integrated model was built by using the five individual drainage around the flooding hot spots. Forty-nine of these areas, known as
area models built in InfoWorks CS and 2 Isis river models. The drainage communities, were identified. These were then rationa-
component models had all been validated by field data and were lised to 20, through a high-level screening exercise, before a
proven to replicate historic flooding events. The integrated model multi-criteria assessment identified the communities to assess in
was built in two parts, one covering the area north of the River more detail. This included considering not only the flooding
Clyde and the other the area south of the river. Overall the model within the area and its source, but confidence in the model
covered an area of 700 000 ha, and included 3300 km of sewers, performance, data availability, opportunities and land use types to
43 rivers and watercourses, 600 combined sewer overflows and a assess in more detail. Five drainage communities ranging between
population of 1.4 million people. The challenge with a model of 100 and 900 ha in size were selected. This represented a diverse
this size was to achieve stability and sensible simulation times range of flooding problems, land use areas and opportunities
without losing the necessary level of detail to allow replication of across Glasgow.
the interactions and subsequently robust solutions to be devel-
oped. This was overcome using a hierarchical approach. In the second stage of the hierarchical approach, the five selected
drainage communities were upgraded by adding detail to the
4. A hierarchical approach to understanding topographical mesh. This was achieved by reducing the size of
flood risk the triangular grid and more detailed ground truthing of the data.
Much of the time, effort and data needs for integrated urban This ensured that the local features were identified as well as
drainage modelling are associated with replicating surface flood- synchronising differences between ground levels in the model
ing. The modelling software used for the Glasgow project was and the DTM. Some of the key changes from the coarse
InfoWorks ICM. This was chosen because it is a more advanced modelling were
version of the InfoWorks CS software platform, which is widely
used in professional practice throughout the UK, and the main j a refined topographic mesh with a maximum triangle size of
drainage models were constructed and run within it. The 25 m2 and a minimum element size of 10 m2
advantage of using InfoWorks ICM was its capability to replicate j building outlines and kerbs were included to direct the flow
out of bank flooding for channel sections and flooding by way of j standard property threshold levels were modelled using a
access chambers for pipe sections, as well as assessing large building porosity to prevent excessive and unrealistic flood
topographical areas. InfoWorks ICM also uses a variable size depths at the side of buildings
triangular mesh for representing surface topography (Pickering j a lower direct runoff value was used than in the coarse
and Allitt, 2011) critical to representing detail and the direction modelling to generate flow from permeable surfaces (such as
that the water on the surface travels. fields based on Wicks et al. (2011)).

In the first phase of the hierarchical approach a coarse two- The integrated model was re-simulated to generate more accurate
dimensional (2D) topographical mesh was used initially. This flood volumes and depths in the drainage communities. A high-
allowed a large area model to be built within a sensible time- level validation exercise was undertaken against confirmed
frame, limiting the number of mesh elements to approximately clusters of flooding, to provide confidence in the results generated
1.5 million. The DTM, created using predominantly light detec- (see Figure 2). Flood depths were mapped in a geographical
tion and ranging (LiDAR) data, was inspected to ensure key information system (GIS) and automatically compared with GIS
structures and pathways were not blocked. Elements in the mesh layers of property details. This enabled flood depth to be
were on average 300 m2 : The course grid model was used to generated at the level of the individual property in each drainage
identify the flood extents across metropolitan Glasgow (Figure 1), community above a set threshold for under-floor and ground-floor
which in turn were used to identify flooding hot spots. Flooding flooding. Flood depths were generated for a range of frequency

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

Higher (30)
Medium (1029)
Lower (19)
Minimal (1)
Drainage community

Figure 1. Example of a drainage community with the

consequence assessment using a grid square approach
(0.25 km2 ) (Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on
behalf of HMSO. # Crown Copyright. All rights reserved)

rainfall events, and associated damage costs generated for differ-

ent property types using damagedepth functions (Penning-
Rowsell et al., 2010). By combining flood frequency and
consequence (property damage in this case), the annual average
damage cost could be generated for each property using the risk
values calculated from 1-, 5-, 10-, 30- and 100-year return period
simulations. These annualised values were then summed within
each 250 m grid square to remove the emphasis on the property
impacted (and property blight). An example of this is shown in
Figure 3, where surrogate flood risk bandings are shown to
differentiate damages costs. The high banding represents the top
25% of the summed annualised values, medium the middle 50%
and low the remaining 25%.

5. A hierarchical approach to identifying

and assessing solutions
A number of approaches were used to identify the potential
benefit of retrofitting solutions and assessing costs. The first step
was to conceptualise the drainage process. The drainage commu-
Figure 2. Example of validation undertaken in the study linking nities were categorised using a sourcepathwayreceptor ap-
predicted flooding (darker shading indicates deeper flood depth) proach (with the source being the point at which rainfall became
with recorded flooding (Reproduced by permission of Ordnance surface water runoff).
Survey on behalf of HMSO. # Crown Copyright. All rights
reserved) Initially, a pinch point assessment was undertaken within each
drainage community. This assessment focused on the existing

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

High flood risk

Medium flood risk
Low flood risk
Minimal flood risk
Drainage community

Figure 3. Annual average damages used to assess flood risk

across an urban area. Flood risk bandings are presented here
rather than absolute annual average damages generated in the
study in order to preserve client confidentiality (Reproduced by
permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. # Crown
Copyright. All rights reserved)

drainage systems. The capacity of each of the drainage conduits The area reduction technique did not explicitly model the measures
was evaluated to identify parts of the network that were that would be applied, only the effects of the measures by applying a
significantly overloaded and acting as pinch points to flow reduction in impermeable area. The models were re-run to calculate
conveyance. The purpose of this initial assessment was to the revised flood and flood risk predictions. Although this showed
evaluate the potential to reduce flood risk through simple some benefit in some areas, the level of benefit (reduction in flood
drainage improvements (e.g. sewer cleaning or upsizing of short risk) was not substantial, especially in the lower reaches of the
lengths of pipes). However, this generally tended to transfer catchment. This was a result of the capacity created through
flooding from one location to another, with no significant overall reducing the flows in the system being taken up by flows already
reduction in either the net flood volume or the number of within the network. This was a clear demonstration of the impor-
properties at risk of flooding. tance of understanding the network interactions both below- and
above-ground prior to being able to develop an effective manage-
In the second stage, an area reduction technique that varied with ment and control strategy. There is no doubt that if the upstream
land use type was applied to each drainage community. Here, flows were controlled, then substantial benefits could be created.
impermeable areas were reduced within the model to represent
different types of measures, and their estimated performance. Based on the results and analysis of the area reduction assess-
Opportunities within the areas were categorised as defined in ment, five drainage communities were prioritised to assess in
CIRIA guidance, C713 Retrofitting to manage surface water more detail where the greatest benefits could be realised. Two
(Digman et al., 2012). These were target opportunities (e.g. drainage communities, impacted by the trunk sewers, were
managing a surface water system that is connected to a flooding omitted owing to their disproportionate effect on the flooding.
system), common opportunities (e.g. where the land use was The remaining three drainage communities were then highlighted
similar, so common interventions could be applied) and future for a more detailed assessment.
opportunities (e.g. areas earmarked for redevelopment or regen-
eration). To represent flow reduction opportunities in the model, The third stage was the detailed assessment. This stage built on
rules were derived to reduce impermeable area contributions the techniques applied during the previous stage of identifying
based on the size and performance of the potential measure. where the opportunities existed. The total annual average damage
More strategic interventions were also considered, such as where to properties in each grid square was used, along with the
direct runoff from a permeable surface was predicted to cause sourcepathwayreceptor approach to target the location of
flooding. appropriate measures. This time, surface water management

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

measures were marked up on the plan, ensuring that topographi- required, building from base costs. Present value costs were then
cally and practically surface water could be connected from one applied over a 30-year time period, and a 20% optimism bias
place to the next. This was particularly important as a low level applied. The net present value of the solutions was established,
of infiltration was expected within the communities; therefore the which for the area presented showed a benefitcost ratio of nearly
surface water must have a receptor to discharge to. The measures two. This demonstrated, even as a first pass, a positive cost
were translated into the model, and guidance was developed to benefit ratio could be achieved. Further iterations could increase
provide consistent approaches to modelling each type of measure. the level of benefits substantially.
The proposed measures for one area in Figure 4 show the use of
rainwater butts combined with private rain gardens, swales, A high-level comparison was undertaken using traditional below-
bioretention areas, detention basins, street planters, kerb drainage ground solutions instead of the sustainable drainage solutions.
and geo-cellular storage. These were of an equivalent size that would provide the same
level of storage as that provided in the sustainable urban drainage
The models were used to assess the change in flood risk, by system (Suds) measures, such as detention basins (this did not
calculating the average annual damages values. Again, these were take into account the conveyance requirements to move water to
plotted using a 250 m grid square approach. The results were the traditional solutions). In this community, the equivalent
compared with the existing scenario modelling outputs to deter- below-ground storage would cost significantly more than the
mine the level of benefit created. The present value of the benefits overall cost estimation for the surface water management works
was also calculated. In reality, the introduction of these measures in the community, in particular due to the direct runoff from the
would also create wider benefits, through managing water quality, hillside. This was owing to large open areas being used to
enhancing biodiversity and amenity, and improving the urban strategically store and control the flows above ground in the
realm, but at the time of the study there were limited data to developed solution. No land costs were attributed in the solution.
monetise these benefits. Therefore, although some of the detention basins used to store
the runoff from fields and undeveloped land would attract a land
The capital and operational costs for the measures were estab- cost, the overall costs would still be less than building below-
lished using UKWIR and WERF (2005) guidance and, where ground solutions in this community.

Suds measures

High priority drainage community boundary

Culverted watercourses
Detention basins
Swales underdrained

Swales cascading
Rain gardens
Geocellular storage
Roofs to disconnect
Kerbside drainage
Pipework required for Suds measures
Water butt front drain to garden
Water butt front drain to sewer
Water butt rear drain to garden
New development potential Suds measures

Figure 4. A range of measures identified throughout a drainage

community to manage overland flow from fields and flooding
from watercourses and sewers (Reproduced by permission of
Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. # Crown Copyright. All
rights reserved)

Water Management Realising the benefits of integrated urban
Volume 167 Issue WM1 drainage models
Digman, Anderson, Rhodes, Balmforth and

6. Developing guidance j A structured and hierarchical approach enables the targeted

The modelling and solution development testing underpinned the assessment of flood risk accounting for different sources of
development of retrofitting guidance for practitioners. This flooding.
focused on the key drivers for Glasgow, to reduce flood risk and j The causes of identified system performance deficiencies can
combined sewer overflow spills. The guidance was the first step be reliably identified (if this is not done, any measures
to assessing the potential for retrofitting, where it may be implemented may not achieve the desired outcomes).
appropriate to retrofit measures, and to calculate the costs and j This approach encourages a wider range of measures to be
benefits. The guidance also recognised the importance of urban considered when developing proposals.
design, and if retrofitting is to be successful using a range of j Controlling existing drainage networks is critical to create the
measures, then integrated solutions are needed. These require greatest benefit from retrofitting.
surface water management, spatial planning, urban design and j The various stakeholders can identify their individual roles
stakeholder engagement to all come together in a consistent but and responsibilities in tackling flood risk.
pragmatic manner to make best use of the available resources to j A good communication platform is provided when working
find the most fitting measures. with the public.
j Proposals can be tested to ensure desired future performance
7. Piloting novel solutions will be achieved and that the most appropriate measures are
One of the important benefits arising from the GSWMS is the identified.
development of novel solutions to managing urban flood risk. j This approach enables costbenefit analysis for the selection
This raises a number of important challenges with respect to of measures.
these novel solutions, including j Overall an integrated approach supports the evaluation of
more sustainable solutions.

j the degree to which they can be practically implemented

j their effectiveness at managing flood risk Although this study did not focus on the water quality benefits,
j their acceptability to land and property owners reducing surface water inputs to the combined sewers will reduce
j their cost effectiveness compared with conventional solutions combined sewer overflow spills. Providing a management train
j the cultural change needed among drainage organisations to using sustainable drainage systems will then provide natural
support their adoption. treatment. By introducing surface water into the communities, it
will enhance the urban realm, creating more pleasant and vibrant
places to live.
One proven method of implementing such change is to promote
pilot projects. Pilot projects not only allow valuable data to be
Taking an integrated approach will help the MGSDP to reach its
collected on all of the above points, but more importantly, they
aim of providing a holistic approach to managing surface water,
can accommodate the chance of failure during exceedance in a
which will unlock the development potential in Glasgow and
way that is non-threatening to stakeholders. A series of potential
improve water quality and neighbourhoods. The approach sup-
pilot projects were developed to implement a range of these
ports MGSDPs view that urban planning and sustainable techni-
measures. The intention is that either the pilots developed as part
cal solutions should preserve or improve the natural hydrological
of the GSWMS, or as part of current delivery projects, will be
balance that was present before urban development took place.
undertaken. Once the pilots have been completed and evaluated,
The outputs from the study provide one of the many components
the MGSDP can determine how to successfully integrate the
of the integrated urban design master-plan that ensures the spatial
retrofit measures and approach into urban drainage planning and
plan coexists with the surface water management plan. This will
wider integrated urban design within Glasgow.
help to achieve sustainable urban land and water management, as
well as improving the well-being of communities.
8. Conclusions
The ability to investigate urban flooding and flood risk across a
wide area where there are multiple sources, pathways and
The authors wish to thank the MGDSP and its partners, in
receptors is still in its infancy. However, the work completed to
particular, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Water, Scottish Gov-
date in Glasgow shows that techniques, ideas and innovative
ernment and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA),
solutions are now able to be drawn together in a truly integrated
for their funding and support during the study. The views in this
approach to model the management of flood risk. Adopting an
paper represent those of the authors, and do not necessarily
integrated approach requires a commitment for long-term plan-
represent those of the funding organisations.
ning, but when the outputs are available these offer a blue print
for investment prioritisation based on increased problem under-
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