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Experimental SuDS-Barrier Systems for Climate Adaptation and Protection of Buried Geo-Infrastructure

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jessica HolmesORCiD, Dr Ross Stirling, Dr Colin DavieORCiD, Professor Stephanie Glendinning



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) published in its final definitive form in 2021. For re-use rights please refer to the publishers terms and conditions.


As part of an ongoing research project (CACTUS – Climate Adaptation Control Technologies for UrbanSpaces) which aims to investigate the use of capillary barrier systems for mitigating the effects of climatechange in urban environments on sub-surface infrastructure, the results of small- scale soil columnexperiments will be presented. A capillary barrier is comprised of a two-layer system of distinctly contrastinghydraulic properties that aims to prevent water infiltration into the underlying in situ soil (Rahardjo et al.,2012). This consists of an upper fine-grained layer for water retention, overlaying a coarse-grained capillarybreak layer that controls vertical infiltration of soil moisture. This technology can be used to mitigate againstflood risk through water retention in the fine-grained layer and enables adaptation of new and existing buriedgeo-infrastructure to climate change, as capillary barriers decouple the performance of underlyinginfrastructure (e.g. buried pipes and foundations) from infiltration rate and moisture content distribution, byproviding a barrier to infiltration beyond the coarse-grained layer (Conca et al., 1998). This reduces shrink-swell movements in clays, which present a considerable challenge to infrastructure serviceability (Toll et al.,2011), thereby protecting underlying geo-infrastructure and mitigating against the effects of climate changewhich is likely to result in increased seasonality with dryer summers and wetter winters. Column experimentsare commonly used in capillary barrier research (e.g. Yang et al., 2006, McCartney and Zornberg, 2010; Cooet al., 2017). Here, they will be used to assess the influence of barrier geometry on performance in terms ofsurface runoff and breakthrough (whereby water infiltrates the coarse-grained layer during extreme rainfallevents) for effective flood mitigation and infrastructure protection, with the aim of providing industryguidance on capillary barrier construction in urban Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Holmes JL, Stirling R, Davie CT, Glendinning S

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 15th International Conference on Urban Drainage

Year of Conference: 2021

Print publication date: 27/10/2021

Online publication date: 27/10/2021

Acceptance date: 20/08/2021

Date deposited: 10/01/2022