While rapid urbanization promotes social and economic development, it poses a serious threat to the health of rivers, especially the small and medium-scale rivers. Flood control for small and medium-scale rivers in highly urbanized areas is particularly important. The purpose of this study is to explore the most effective flood control strategy for small and medium-scale rivers in highly urbanized areas. MIKE 11 and MIKE 21 were coupled with MIKE FLOOD model to simulate flooding with the flood control standard, after which the best flooding control scheme was determined from a whole region perspective (both the mainstream and tributary conditions were considered). The SheGong River basin located near the Guangzhou Baiyun international airport in Guangzhou city over south China was selected for the case study. The results showed that the flooding area in the basin of interest accounts for 42% of the total, with maximum inundation depth up to 0.93 m under the 20-year return period of the designed flood. The flood-prone areas are the midstream and downstream where urbanization is high; however the downstream of the adjacent TieShan River is still able to bear more flooding. Therefore, the probable cost-effective flood control scheme is to construct two new tributaries transferring floodwater in the mid- and downstream of the SheGong River into the downstream of the TieShan River. This infers that flood control for small and medium-scale rivers in highly urbanized areas should not simply consider tributary flood regimes but, rather, involve both tributary and mainstream flood characters from a whole region perspective.
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