Rainwater or meltwater that runs unrestrainedly down the streets is a major problem for a city. Urban runoff water that is unfiltered carries the dirt and pollutants of the streets with it, thus it also causes environmental burden. Natural solutions for urban runoff management are essential elements of the future’s city. However, the solutions will not be possible to develop without thorough scientific research.

Cities need vehicles for urban runoff  management

Urban runoff is rainwater or meltwater that can not soak into the soil or does not evaporate. Runoff is usually conveyed into sea or waterways through a dividual pipeline network. All too often, the contaminants that urban runoff carries with it end up in the environment as well.

Besides the issue of environmental burden, urban runoff creates a risk of flooding. Streaming streets and deluging underways can cause remarkable problems confronting cities. ‘Studies show that the number of severe rainstorms will increase because of climate change. The predictions call for effective and sustainable solutions. It is important to reduce the burden straining the urban runoff systems of built-up areas,’ says Mathilde Cuvelier, trainee of the Research and Development Team.

Vegetation filtrates, evaporates and reduces the amount of urban runoff

‘Vegetation is an effective way for urban runoff management,’ Cuvelier tells. It filtrates the particles and dirt from the urban runoff and stores nutrients. Vegetation lowers the risk of urban flooding by evaporating and storing the water and by delaying runoff. ‘It is the smartest option to build the urban runoff management system on nature’s terms. Green solutions designed with expertise not only reduce the risks that come with urban runoff, but also protect biological diversity,’ says Cuvelier.

Research is the foundation of the development work

Green solutions for urban runoff management are essential for the future’s city. Nevertheless, the developing process of them can be tricky. ‘There are still plenty of questions unanswered regarding ecological urban runoff management. Currently, we are examining the optimal plant species and microbial inoculation of the soil for the plant-based filtration system. These factors have a significant effect on the efficiency with which the green element, a green wall for instance, is able to filter the runoff water,’  Cuvelier tells.

‘The work we are doing can be undeniably hard, but it is even more meaningful,’ Cuvelier adds, smiling. ‘Hydrology questions are huge, because they are linked to the water cycle. Today’s research may, some day, secure the availability of clean water,’ she states.

Mathilde Cuvelier Innogreen urban runoff
Mathilde Cuvelier is a trainee of the Research and Development Team. She studies hydrology and helps researcher Long Xie to conduct the urban runoff studies throughout summer 2021.

Read on the green wall that filtrates urban runoff.