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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering >> 2013, Volume 7, Issue 5 doi: 10.1007/s11783-013-0546-8

Sustainability of urban drainage management: a perspective on infrastructure resilience and thresholds

1. School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China; 2. Department of Ecology and Environment, Beijing Tsinghua Tongheng Urban Planning & Design Institute, Beijing 100083, China; 3. National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, Dalian 116023, China

Available online: 2013-10-01

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Urban wastewater infrastructures have been threatened by natural and socioeconomic disturbances. This study investigates infrastructure resilience against the risks of long-term changes rather than natural disasters. Urban expansion that leads to an increased urban runoff and massive population movements that cause fluctuations in domestic emissions are considered in this study. Pollution permits for water bodies are adopted as constraints on wastewater infrastructures. A land use-based accounting method, combined with a grid-based database, is developed to map domestic discharge and urban runoff to service areas of wastewater treatment plants. The results of a case study on downtown Sanya, the most famous seashore tourist attraction in China, show that the average resilient values of three sub-catchment areas in 2010 were -0.57, 0.10 and 0.27, respectively, a significant spatial variation. The infrastructure in the Sanya River sub-region is the least flexible, and is more likely to fail due to unstable inflows. The resiliencies will increase to 0.59, 1.01 and 0.54, respectively, in 2020, a considerable improvement in robustness. The study suggests that infrastructure resilience needs to be taken into further consideration for urban planning and the related realm of urban governance to foster more robust wastewater management under various risks.

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