Saturday, September 17, 2016

Urban Hydrology and Models

Urban hydrology does not clearly indicate which the topic is. Has it to do with the rainfall that falls with different schedule on cities than elsewhere  or viceversa ? Has it to do with different canopies ? Different partition of fluxes ? Or all of it ?
Cities gave a lot to sciences, they are, partially, the product of science an technology, but technical sciences does not study very much cities, … maybe.  Fletcher et al., (2013) can be a short review of the topic for beginners. 

When hydrologists think to cities often they do not directly think to the built environment, and the way the models has to be adapted to simulate the urban water cycle. 
Fact checking shows that just a few models are present around the world that are concerned with the topic. At least recently and in major journal. An exception is Joshua Cantone and Arthur Schmidt work, who have an approach very similar to mine, and Schmidt is steadily adding material to their first ideas. 

Actually we, as engineers, we are also concerned on how these infrastructures can be designed (for a literature review, see my presentation here). As my students knows, I try to use a geomorphological approach to the problem, and I developed a model called Trento_p to design culverts and the relates sewage.  I also wrote a couple of paper on it (in Italian). However, I grow a sort of  dissatisfaction or not being able to deal with the whole set of measures that constitute the center of the modern view that aims to develop sustainable cities
In this new context, new tools are necessary. The more used tool in recent context (almost the only one which seems referenced) is an old tool, called SWMM (its site here) written and promoted by EPA researchers. It is open source (but better see EPA's Github site or the Open Water Analytics Initiative), and exists from long time. Therefore it is pretty well documented (see below), and supported by many video tutorials.

First impression is that its hydrology is really outdated. However, since it has many features that I like, in a pragmatic perspective, I could  use it with students, while my groups, on the ashes of the old Trento_p, builds a new model.

An update (2018-01-18)

Recently I came across the work of Aditi Bhaskar (GS), which addressed the urban hydrology issues "from below", meaning considering the effects on urban groundwater. The perspective is very interesting and complementary to the surface waters one.

Another update(2019-10-10)

Interesting is the approach used by this project, called Virtual Water, which deals with the applications of virtual reality to Urban Drainage Systems.


Bhaskar, A.S. and C. Welty (2012), Water Balances along an Urban-to-Rural Gradient of Metropolitan Baltimore, 2001-2009, Environmental and Engineering Geoscience. 18(1), 37-50. doi: 10.2113/gseegeosci.18.1.37.

Bhaskar, A.S., C. Welty, R.M. Maxwell, A.J. Miller (2015), Untangling the effects of urban development on subsurface storage in Baltimore, Water Resources Research, doi: 10.1002/2014WR016039.

Bhaskar, A.S. and C. Welty (2015), Analysis of subsurface storage and streamflow generation in urban watersheds, Water Resources Research, doi: 10.1002/2014WR015607.

Bhaskar, A.S., L. Beesley, M.J. Burns, T.D. Fletcher, P. Hamel, C.E. Oldham, and A.H. Roy (2016), Will it rise or will it fall? Managing the diverse effects of urbanization on base flow, Freshwater Science, 35(1), 293-310, doi: 10.1086/685084.

AS Bhaskar, DM Hogan, SA Archfield, Urban base flow with low impact development, Hydrological Processes 30 (18), 3156-3171

D. Tamanini, A.B. Esmail, F. Zanotti, S. Simoni, P. Bertola, R. Rigon (2009). Trento_p : un modello geomorfologico per lo studio del drenaggio urbano. L'ACQUA, vol. 2009, p. 73-74, ISSN: 1125-1255

Fletcher T.D., Andrieu  H., Hamel P., Understanding, management and modelling of urban hydrology and its consequences for receiving waters: A state of the art, Advances in Water Resources 51 (2013) 261–279

Kexuan Wang (advisor, A.Schmidt) , Hydrologic response of sustainable urban drainage to different climate scenario, M.Sc. Thesis, 2015

Morales, V. M., Quijano, J. C., Schmidt, A., & Garcia, M. H. (2016). Innovative framework to simulate the fate and transport of non‐conservative constituents in urban combined‐sewer catchments. Water Resources Res., 1–53.

Pathirana, A,  Introduction to EPA-SWMM, presentation

Rigon, R., Bertola, P. - La progettazione con un metodo geomorfologico delle reti di drenaggio urbane, II Conferenza Nazionale sul Drenaggio Urbano, Palermo, 10-12 maggio 2000

Sanzana, P., Gironás, J., Braud, I., Branger, F., Rodriguez, F., Vargas, X., et al. (2017). A GIS-based urban and peri-urban landscape representation toolbox for hydrological distributed modeling. Environmental Modelling and Software, 91, 168–185.

Wang, A., Park, S., Huang, S., and Schmidt, A. (2015) Hydrologic Response of Sustainable Urban Drainage to Different Climate Scenarios. World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2015: pp. 312-321.doi: 10.1061/9780784479162.030

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