By Martin Zoffmann
Development of the new state-of-the-art water technology will give water companies and municipalities a new tool for overall planning and management of water – regardless of whether it comes from torrential rain or flooding. On this basis, a number of public and private stakeholders, together with Denmark’s largest water companies and Innovation Fund Denmark have launched the project, ’Water Smart Cities’.
The name, 'Water Smart Cities' was chosen, because there will be focus in the future on use of new IT technology as a means of smarter management of water, to prevent harm to the environment and damage to buildings. The name also refers to tackling upcoming climate challenges in the best possible way.
”This project is based on how water moves through a city in event of torrential rainstorms. The trick is to lead the water around buildings and installations that are at risk, and instead to areas where the great quantities of water will cause no harm. There are not many vacant square meters in cities where water can go without doing damage, so all measures must be put to use to control water from cloudbursts,” says Christian Nyerup Nielsen, responsible for climate adaptation at Ramboll and member of the project steering committee.
”That’s why a new form of emergency action is needed, through the interaction between realistic forecasts, careful urban planning, management of drainage and various kinds of retention basins, to lead floodwater out of the cities, and ensure the least possible damage,” he adds.
Innovation Fund Denmark, established by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science as an independent body for development of knowledge and technology, has granted DKK 12.1 million to the project, which in total is expected to cost DKK 28.3 million.
Need for insight to support decisions
Ramboll’s contribution consists mainly of a work package dealing with the development and application of general and transparent criteria, as a basis for decision support during the design and operation of drainage systems.
”Nowadays the possible methods for handling large amounts of water play an important role in the planning both natural and urban development projects. There are often many considerations and interests at stake, and therefore a growing need to make decisions on a clear basis. That’s why a large share of our contribution to the project consists of guidance to a PhD student, who will work with ’decision-support’ in the handling of urban water runoff and economic valuation of costs and benefits,” says Ida Bülow Gregersen from Ramboll, who has a PhD herself and will participate in project meetings.
She and Christian Nyerup Nielsen are both pleased that the water sector is working together on a joint project in this area:
”Unlike a traditional research project, where the core research at universities weighs heaviest, the utilities play a major role in the ’Water Smart Cities’ project. The project has allocated many resources to knowledge-exchange across organisations. This means that tools developed during the project directly address the needs of the utilities. Thus, the project has the potential to strengthen both the Danish water sector as a whole and the individual organisation’s role abroad.”
The project started in April 2016 and will run for four years. The participating organisations are:
the Technical University of Denmark, DHI, Ramboll, Krüger, Danish Meteorological Institute, Greater Copenhagen Utility (HOFOR), Aarhus Water, WaterCenter South, BIOFOS, and Innovation Fund Denmark.
You can read more about our services within climate adaptation and flood protection.