Integrating blue-green and grey infrastructure through an adaptation pathways approach to surface water flooding.
A range of solutions to future flood risk are available ranging from blue-green infrastructure (BGI) as commonly incorporated in sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) to traditional grey infrastructure (e.g. pipe networks, storage tanks, flood walls). Each offers a different profile with respect to costs, flexibility of implementation and the ability to deliver a range of wider benefits beyond their flood protection function. An important question that must be addressed when considering these approaches is what is the most suitable mix of grey and blue-green solutions to urban flooding at any location and at any future time? This paper uses an adaptation pathways approach to compare a range of alternative options to deal with current and expected future flood risk in part of a London borough. Solutions considered separately and in combination include grey pipe expansion, bioretention cells, permeable pavements and storage ponds. A methodological framework combines a range of existing tools to develop, assess and characterize each pathway, including a storm water management model (SWMM), a SuDs opportunity selection tool, an adaptation pathway generator and the CIRIA B£ST tool for monetizing multiple benefits. Climate change is represented by the UK Water Industry Research method for establishing future rainfall intensities for sewer and BGI design. The results showed that by extending the way in which adaptation pathways are compared and evaluated through the wider consideration of multiple benefits there is a trade-off between deferring interventions until they are needed for flood risk mitigation and delivering the multiple benefits associated with interventions so that performance thresholds do not need to be met before introducing new options. The relative contribution of each option's capital and operation and maintenance costs has implications on when the option is implemented as well as the rate of implementation. The monetization of the multiple benefits associated with each pathway shows that their economic co-evaluation alongside infrastructure costs can change the preference for one pathway over another. This article is part of the theme issue 'Urban flood resilience'.