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batch of sponge city pilot cities in China

3 years

service period


technical seminars 

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The challenge

If you've ever lived through a serious waterlogging event, you know how challenging it can be to try to recover after the flood waters receded from your home or business, or to try to walk through the roads full of muddy water. If you live in a neighborhood that open water smells, you know how difficult it can be to enjoy your life.

Unfortunate consequences of urbanization are as well the increased likelihood of waterlogging as polluted open water. In cities full of concrete structures, rainwater cannot seep into the ground like it would in a natural setting and if adequate drainage is not available, waterlogging occurs. When cities are developing rapidly and water is not as one of the key factors to be considered, black and smelly open water are formed.

The solution

At the intersection of the Yangtze and Han rivers, with 14 million citizens, Wuhan is one of the first 16 pilot cities selected by the Central Government for the National Sponge City program. To make the city more resilient and more livable, Wuhan has made a great effort.

As advisor to Wuhan Water Authority in their 3 years Sponge City Program, Arcadis has formed an worldwide expert team which has decades of experiences on SuDS (Sustainable Drainage System) and LID (Low Impact Development).

Our experts worked incorporate with many local institutes involved in this enormous program, to address the challenges of urban water issues. Our plan envisions the creation of integrated systems of comprehensive management structures, green infrastructure, an upgraded urban drainage system, water storage and purification facilities throughout the city. Many of these solutions are small-scale but replicated across the city to create a much larger cumulative effect.

The impact

These solutions not only alleviate waterlogging effects, but also provide actual benefits to Wuhan and its citizens. Permeable pavements and small water storage facilities will enable water re-use and decrease vulnerability to drought. New public green spaces will absorb storm water, while also contributing to a more attractive and livable city.

Overall, the Sponge City program will reduce economic and environmental damage caused by waterlogging and open water quality and increase as well safety as living quality for citizens in Wuhan. The project will also serve as an example for other Chinese cities, so that these innovative, resiliency-enhancing techniques can be replicated across the country.

Used capabilities

Digital Environmental Health Safety and Sustainability

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