Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Methodology to assess the use of BMPs in Europe

Urban drainage systems for impermeable surface stormwater runoff represent a particular issue for developers, regulatory agencies and water service companies given the increasing pressure to achieve sustainable drainage solutions. Best management practices (BMPs) applied to such drainage systems can offer secondary benefits of water quality and amenity/ecology improvements in addition to flow control and pollution removal.

The application of BMPs involves a variety of stakeholders in both the public and private arenas and therefore their drainage and design can be subject to differing degrees of uncertainty with regard to the relevance of influencing political, organisational, technical and environmental factors. In addition to being effective in terms of long term performance, they also need to be cost-effective when compared with conventional systems. Sustainability criteria therefore are required to be referenced against the critical design parameters which relate primarily to water attenuation, water quality improvements and enhancement of amenity/ecological provision.

Thus design and construction, environmental/ecological impact, operation and maintenance, health and safety, social/urban community as well as economic and legal issues become prime potential sustainability criteria to facilitate comparisons and accreditation of drainage options with regard to capital cost, resource use, acceptability, performance etc. Given such dependences and variabilities, it is relevant to consider how multi-objective and multi-operational criteria can be utilised to assess the relative importance of the factors which specifically influence the use of BMPs within surface drainage systems.

A detailed report has beeen produced titled 'Criteria relevant to the assessment of BMP performance'. Within Section 2 of this report, the selected terms for describing the factors which influence BMP selection are defined. Subsequently (in Section 3) the key criteria are identified for assisting stakeholders in the determination of the most appropriate stormwater BMP(s) for a specific catchment area. The seven identified criteria categories are subdivided into primary and secondary indicators and then benchmarked using appropriate threshold values or units. The primary indicators are those which can be considered to be generic to each of the criteria and the secondary indicators provide a more detailed description of the BMP characteristics/properties which are being assessed.

The benchmarks take this process a step further by identifying the important factors or conditions appropriate to each secondary indicator and for each benchmark, relevant threshold values are assigned. At this stage in the work, actual values have not been allocated but these will be introduced in the form of quantitative or qualitative inputs, according to which is more appropriate. This deliverable represents the start of the process which will enable end-users to identify the most appropriate stormwater BMP(s) with regard to a range of often contrasting and conflicting demands such as system performance, adoption, community benefits and life cycle costs. The extensive nature of the criteria descriptors is partly due to the need to cover all aspects which are relevant to European conditions.

The comprehensive range of criteria, indicators and benchmarks may prove to be too detailed for many end-users and therefore these have been ranked to prioritise those which are considered to be of the most relevance. These are identified in Section 4 and it is envisaged that when incorporated into the ADSS, users would have the opportunity to initially access the highly ranked indicators and benchmarks and move to the second, more extensive tier, when a more sophisticated analysis is required.

The Water Pollution Unit at Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees, the Department of Water Resources Hydraulic and Maritime Works at the National Technical University of Athens and the Environment and Resources Unit at the Technical University of Denmark are acknowledged for their contributions to the preparation of this document.

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Middlesex University
Queensway, Enfield, Middlesex
United Kingdom
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