You are here

Design Criteria of Urban Drainage Infrastructures under Climate Change

TitleDesign Criteria of Urban Drainage Infrastructures under Climate Change
Publication TypeManual Entry
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMailhot, Alain, and Sophie Duchesne
Date PublishedMAR-APR
Place Published1801 ALEXANDER BELL DR, RESTON, VA 20191-4400 USA
Type of ArticleArticle
CLIMATE CHANGE, Design criteria, Extreme rainfall event, Integrated stormwater management, Return period, Urban drainage, Urban infrastructure

Actual projections provided by climate models suggest that the probability of occurrence of intense rainfall will increase in a future climate due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Considering that the design of urban drainage systems is based on statistical analysis of past events, an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events will most probably result in more frequent flooding. The design criteria must therefore be revised to take into consideration possible changes induced by climate change. A procedure is proposed to revise the design criteria of urban drainage infrastructures. This procedure integrates information about (1) climate projections for extreme rainfall over the region under consideration; (2) expected level of performance (or acceptable level of risk); and (3) expected lifetime of the infrastructure/system. The resulting design criterion ensures that the service level remains above the selected ``acceptable{''} level over a predefined portion of the infrastructure lifetime. It is argued that the definition of new design criteria should be part of a global adaptation strategy combining various measures to maintain an acceptable level of service in a long-term perspective. Defining this level of service is however a challenge in a context where uncertainties on projected changes in intense rainfall are still important.

Citation Key1131
Community Notes

This paper addresses the problem drainage systems face under climate change:

"A changing probability of occurrence of intense rainfall means that the average time separating two events of similar intensity will change over time and that the return period is no longer constant and could not be used, as is, to define the service level."


Climate change introduces a non-stationarity component which violates one of the assumptions that must be made when using precipitation intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves to design storm drainage systems.  Violating the assumptions means that the uncertainty can no be known.  This problem is addressed by integrating information about how return periods change under climate change.