Sustainable urban water management inspired by nature

The vulnerability to floods and the increasing need for potable water are affecting especially the urban areas of Kazakhstan. To tackle both problems at once, integrated water management is needed that combines surface water management (stormwater catchment, flood protection) with groundwater management (recharge measures, recovery for different uses). TERESA will develop nature-based solutions for urban catchments in Kazakhstan by combining the advantages of sustainable urban drainage solutions and managed aquifer recharge systems. The overall goal is to use and enhance natural processes such as water retention and infiltration to reduce the impacts of urbanisation and climate change on natural water cycle. The multifunctional solutions proposed aim to decrease the stormwater runoff and increase groundwater recharge for the mitigation of urban flooding and protection of groundwater-dependent urban ecosystems. 

TERESA will develop nature-based solutions for urban catchments by combining the advantages of sustainable urban drainage (SUDS) and managed aquifer recharge (MAR) systems. The multifunctional solutions will reduce the stormwater runoff and increase groundwater recharge for the mitigation of urban flooding and protection of groundwater-dependent urban ecosystems.

Sustainable urban drainage solutions (SUDS) are a collection of water management practices that align modern drainage systems with natural water processes. By providing water storage and enlarging the area for infiltration, they support flood risk management while maintaining and protecting the natural water cycle. Further advantages include the enhancement of water quality and overall creation of better living conditions for people and nature. To enhance their efficiency and cope with the increasing seasonality of water availability, additional water storage capacity is provided by the underlying aquifers. Site-specific solutions aimed at managing the recharge of the aquifers through enhanced infiltration will further reduce the area needed and provide for more flexibility in the integration of SUDS into the urban planning strategies. The intentional recharge of the aquifers with water collected and retained through SUDS allows for potential reuse of water for other urban needs such as irrigation of green areas during summer etc.

Virtual urban model using modern simulations tools

To support stakeholders in Kazakhstan to design and adopt sustainable water management solutions, the project will develop a virtual urban development model using modern simulation tools. The model will focus on scenarios-based assessment of engineered and natural water balances in selected areas of Nur-Sultan city and include smart, sensor-based monitoring approaches to keep-up with the rapid development of the city. To achieved this, TERESA uses a combined approach to integrate a sewer network model with a surface flow model and a groundwater flow model. The IT infrastructure proposed will extend the existing software solutions developed by the project partners TUD and itwh and will be integrated in the Astana Smart City concept developed by Astana Innovations JSC.

Participative urban planning

For the realization of the virtual urban model and to simulate the impact of the solutions proposed, various planning typologies and guidelines will be used and validated in workshops and meetings with Kazakh partners. The focus will be laid on different land uses and their hydrologic characteristics, on the degree of urbanization expressed in demand for engineered water infrastructure, as well as potential connectivity to adjacent areas and regions. As a virtual model, the approach can be used to replicate existing urban developments in Nur-Sultan or other cities or as scientific basis for planning of new urban agglomerations for the estimation of their future water footprints. A capacity development package will be provided to assure that Kazakh partners can use the system during and after the project. The expected outcome of the project is a flexible planning tool for conceptualization of “digital twins” of urban water management systems that enables future urban development and sustainable management of water resources.

The system will have two major components coupled at different interfaces:

  • a module which includes the design of a virtual urban drainage system equipped with real-time control units as well as flood mitigation measures (Sub-project A: Modelling of urban surface water – ITWH); and
  • module which includes decentralised managed aquifer recharge concepts for seasonal water banking and flood control (Sub-project B: ICT infrastructure and managed aquifer recharge approach – TUD).