Sustainable water drainage - Stormwater

Stormwater is one of the biggest challenges in urban areas. Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground. Each year millions are spent to compensate damages caused by runoff after heavy rainfall and flash floods in urban areas.

Future cities will be more compact cities and frequency of heavy rainfall events are expected to increase with climate change, thus improving the urban stormwater management is of great importance. In natural environments such as forests, vegetation and soil retain and absorb much of the stormwater. In developed areas, with less permeable surfaces and less vegetation, less water will infiltrate, but more will run off.

Need for improved stormwater management

Unmanaged stormwater can create two major issues:

  • Flooding and overload of wastewater treatment facilities, as a result of the volume and timing of the runoff water
  • Water pollution, as the runoff water carries potential contaminants

So, in urban areas we need to find ways to reduce the amount of stormwater and the pollution it carries or to put in place preventive measures to avoid negative impacts What can we do about it?

The role of blue- green infrastructure

How we manage our land areas, both private and public land, greatly influences volume and timing of stormwater. Land use types, like parks and gardens with big trees, where water can infiltrate and be retained by vegetation and thus runoff is reduced or delayed, make a big difference when it comes to the generation of stormwater runoff. Healthy vegetation along open water courses help to reduce pollution loads. And the more area we have under such land uses, the bigger will be the effect! There is a need to raise the awareness of the role that green infrastructure plays for stormwater management and there is a need for more knowledge how blue-green infrastructure should be designed.

What does it mean for us as citizens? Can we contribute with our private lot? What makes us like dislike blue-green infrastructure? And how do we best design blue-green infrastructure for multiple purposes and benefits?

Co-creating a crowdsourced solution

For the urban water case, we want to explore how crowdsourcing can contribute positively to environmental decision-making and research related to urban stormwater challenges – and thus help to solve urban stormwater problems.

As part of the responsible research and innovation (RRI) process in iResponse, we will in an iterative co-creation process develop a tool or platform that serves to improve current stormwater management in urban areas. Citizens data coupled with existing processes and models will generate new insights and help to shape green-blue infrastructure for the future. We will work closely with the relevant actors, citizens and Oslo Municipality (as our testing area) to identify opportunities and needs.

Want to get involved? We want to hear from you!

Please contact

Line Barkved (NIVA):

Isabel Seifert-Dähnn (NIVA):