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Demonstration of a green-blue approach for a strategic management of urban runoff

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jennine Jonczyk, Dr Paul Quinn, Professor Oliver Heidrich, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD, Dr Stephen Birkinshaw, Professor Philip James, Neil Harris, Dave Pearson


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With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, there is an increasing need to facilitate urban areas to be more sustainable and resilient to the impacts of extreme events such as surface water flooding. Traditionally, urban storm water is managed predominately through grey infrastructure such as sewer collection systems and flood walls, often with little consideration of the increased water utility costs or downstream flood risk. There is little collaboration between organisations and sectors on managing and mitigating the impacts of flooding at city level, with decisions made in silos.A 24-acre development zone is used as a case study to show how different sectors and organisations came to realise the multiple benefits of a blue-green, joined-up, site-wide approach to managing storm runoff. The Science Central development zone ( is at the heart of the city and is jointly owned by Newcastle University and the Newcastle city council with an overall vision for innovation and urban sustainability. The masterplan was reviewed and agreed by the partners in 2016 to include a site-wide holistic conveyance of surface water through a series of measures across the site, and the commercial needs of the building plots were balanced with the need to manage the flood hazard. Uniquely, once constructed, the measures will be monitored to evaluate how they function and the multiple benefits they provide will also be evaluated. This will include monitoring water and air quality parameters, indicators of biodiversity and carbon capture through The Urban Observatory. The Urban Observatory ( is a research project based at Newcastle University that produces a data portal of open and scalable data from deployments of heterogeneous sensors and 3rd party data sources around the city. The site will also host a new national sustainable urban drainage research facility that will provide research infrastructure to carry out detailed experiments, with the aim of improving the evidence based for green-blue solutions. Science Central and its approach to surface runoff is to be an exemplar of a future, sustainable city with a vision to demonstrate that making space for water can provide a more liveable and thriving environment for all.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jonczyk J, Quinn P, Heidrich O, Dawson R, Birkinshaw S, James P, Harris N, Pearson D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: AGU Fall Meeting

Year of Conference: 2016

Print publication date: 12/12/2016

Acceptance date: 10/09/2016

Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)


Series Title: Innovative Green, Gray, and Hybrid Infrastructure Design and Decision Support for Urban Stormwater Management Posters

Series Editor(s): John McCray Terri Hogue