Sponge City: Using the “One Water” Concept to Improve Understanding of Flood Management Effectiveness
- From 2008 to 2018, the impacts of flooding in China in 2010 were most impactful. In that year, over RMB 350 billion (approximately USD 52.5 billion) damage in total occurred from over 250 cities .
- A single storm event occurred in Beijing on 21 July 2012 that resulted in 79 deaths and led to RMB 11.6 billion (approximately USD 1.74 billion) economic loss .
- Between 2011 and 2014, a survey shows that 62% of cities were impacted by flood events and the associated financial losses totaling RMB 100 billion (approximately USD 15 billion) .
- In 2015, flooding caused direct damage to more than 150 cities, which incurred approximately RMB 160 billion (approximately USD 24 billion) financial costs .
- In 2016, monsoon season-related flooding resulted in major flooding in 28 provinces in China in hundreds of cities from south to north over the entire country . The associated cost was estimated to be at least USD 44.7 billion . In the same year, 641 out of a total of 654 cities (98%) had experienced frequent flooding events .
- Massive groundwater withdrawals are frequently employed to meet the water demands of the growing urban populations, but these initiatives may be causing land subsidence;
- With elevated water use in the urban areas, there are more wastewater quantities to contend with, resulting in deteriorated water quality in receiving waterbodies;
- Urban areas are increasing in size. With larger city dimensions, a localized, heavy storm which historically would have caused damage to a rural area now hits an urbanized area with large economic impacts and fatalities.
2. Water Flow Components: Indications of Changes
2.1. The ‘One Water’ Concept
2.2. Implications of Sponge City
- intentional increases of acceptable quality (i.e., light grey) water being infiltrated to ensure that the integrity of the groundwater sustainability is preserved, while also increasing both shallow and deep groundwater infiltration ;
- reduced water importation as the result of success at reducing water demands from the megacity;
- enhanced evapotranspiration occurs due to sponge city components such as bioretention cells;
- stormwater reuse arises from efforts to successfully reuse some of the stormwater by, for example, water capture to facilitate vegetative watering and/or for rainwater being used for toilet flushing.
- One Water is useful to portray the principles of decision-making in relation to water movement and organize the thinking and the potential effectiveness of specific initiatives;
- One Water does not easily reflect the implications of different return periods of flooding, e.g., the 2-year impact versus the 100-year impact;
- One Water can portray the need to be highly cautious about the water quality impacts of infiltration.
2.3. The Groundwater Perspective
3. Results and Discussions: Sponge City in China—Now and the Future
3.1. Challenges and Limitations
3.2. Urban Growth and Storm Sizes
3.3. Climate Change and Sponge City
- Emission scenarios;
- GCM structure and parameters;
- GCM initialization conditions;
- Downscaling techniques;
- Hydrologic model structure.
- Sponge City initiatives are helpful in terms of reducing floods and encouraging more infiltration, but these options also have limitations. The limit of Sponge City can be observed primarily in reducing the impacts of severe storm events, but not eliminating urban flooding;
- Infiltration rates introduced by Sponge City initiatives are limited in capability and likely are not sufficient sources to induce groundwater recharge to prevent subsidence unless there is a reduction of groundwater withdrawal;
- Sponge City can help to decrease the spatial extent of flooding (e.g., possibly for events such as 2-year storms), but cannot prevent flooding for major events such as the 100-year storm.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Stormwater Management Practices (SC/LID Applications)||Surface Water Balance||Water Quality||Erosion||Water Quantity (Flood Management)|
|Parking lot storage||1||1||1||3|
|Roof leader to ponding area||3||2||2||1|
|Roof leader to soakaway pit||3||2||2||1|
|Vegetated filter strips||3||2||2||1|
|City||Mean Cumulative Subsidence (mm) during 1900–2013||Maximum Subsidence Rate (mm/Year)|
|Ho Chi Minh City||300||80|
|City||Population (1970)||Population (2016–2018)||Population Increase Factor||Old Urban Area (km2)||New Urban Area (km2)|
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Jiang, A.Z.; McBean, E.A. Sponge City: Using the “One Water” Concept to Improve Understanding of Flood Management Effectiveness. Water 2021, 13, 583. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050583
Jiang AZ, McBean EA. Sponge City: Using the “One Water” Concept to Improve Understanding of Flood Management Effectiveness. Water. 2021; 13(5):583. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050583Chicago/Turabian Style
Jiang, Albert Z., and Edward A. McBean. 2021. "Sponge City: Using the “One Water” Concept to Improve Understanding of Flood Management Effectiveness" Water 13, no. 5: 583. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050583