Comparing cost‐effectiveness of surface water flood management interventions in a UK catchment

Surface water flooding is a significant hazard, which regularly impacts communities in the United Kingdom. Current estimates place 4 million homes at risk from surface water, resulting in this mode of flooding recognised as the leading cause of flood risk in the United Kingdom (DEFRA, 2012).


Despite significant consequences caused by recent events, surface water flooding has historically been of lower priority relative to fluvial and coastal risks in UK flood management. Legislation and research proposes a variety of innovative interventions to address this; however, widespread application of these remains a challenge due to a number of institutional, economic, and technical barriers. This research applies a framework capable of fast and high‐resolution assessment of intervention cost‐effectiveness as an opportunity to improve available evidence and encourage uptake of interventions through analysing permutations of type, scale, and distribution in urban catchments. Fast assessment of many scenarios is achieved using a cellular automata flood model and a simplified representation of interventions. Conventional and green strategies are examined across a range of design standard and high‐magnitude rainfall events in an urban catchment. Results indicate high‐volume rainwater capture interventions demonstrate a significant reduction in estimated annual damage costs, and localised surface water drainage interventions exhibit high cost‐effectiveness for damage reduction. Analysis of performance across a wide range of return periods enhances available evidence for option comparison decision support and provides a basis for future resilience assessment of interventions.

Read the full article in Flood Risk Management

Research article
Published: 9 January 2019
James L. Webber
Guangtao Fu
David Butler
Centre for Water Systems, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter
Published in:
Flood Risk Management
Volume 12, Issue 52, November 2019

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