Strategic Planning of the Integrated Urban Wastewater System Using Adaptation Pathways

Seyed M.K. Sadr, Arturo Casal-Campos, Guangtao Fu, Raziyeh Farmani, Sarah Ward, David Butler
Posted on: 9/13/2021 - Updated on: 10/01/2021

Posted by

Kathryn Braddock



Emerging threats such as climate change and urbanization pose an unprecedented challenge to the integrated management of urban wastewater systems, which are expected to function in a reliable, resilient and sustainable manner regardless of future conditions. Traditional long-term planning is rather limited in developing no-regret strategies that avoid maladaptive lock-ins in the near term and allow for flexibility in the long term. In this study, a novel adaptation pathways approach for urban wastewater management is developed in order to explore the compliance and adaptability potential of intervention strategies in a long-term operational period, accounting for different future scenarios and multiple performance objectives in terms of reliability, resilience and sustainability. This multi-criteria multi-scenario approach implements a regret-based method to assess the relative performance of two types of adaptation strategies: (I) standalone strategies (i.e. green or grey strategies only); and (II) hybrid strategies (i.e. combined green and grey strategies). A number of adaptation thresholds (i.e. the points at which the current strategy can no longer meet defined objectives) are defined to identify compliant domains (i.e. periods of time in a future scenario when the performance of a strategy can meet the targets). The results obtained from a case study illustrate the trade-off between adapting to short-term pressures and addressing long-term challenges. Green strategies show the highest performance in simultaneously meeting near and long-term needs, while grey strategies are found less adaptable to changing circumstances. In contrast, hybrid strategies are effective in delivering both short-term compliance and long-term adaptability. It is also shown that the proposed adaption pathways method can contribute to the identification of adaptation strategies that are developed as future conditions unfold, allowing for more flexibility and avoiding long-term commitment to strategies that may cause maladaptation. This provides insights into the near-term and long-term planning of ensuring the reliability, resilience and sustainability of integrated urban drainage systems.


Document Type
Adaptation Phase
Sector Addressed
Target Climate Changes and Impacts