Water Sensitive Cities (WSC) theory

The Water Sensitive Cities (WSC) theory was derived from the Dutch Ecopolis model

WSC has 3 main principles:
1. Cities as catchment
2. Ecological services
3. Water sensitive communities and networks through collaboration

In following these principles, a project will undergo whole system analyses, ensuring an integrated and systematic approach.

The Source-Pathway-Receptor (Sayers PB; Hall JW; Meadowcroft IC, 2002. Towards risk-based flood hazard management in the UK. Civil Engineereing 2002, 150(5), 36-42.)  model provides a practical means of disaggregating the basic components of flood probability and consequence into their constituent components.

For example, when exploring the ‘whole system’ that influences the flood probability, consideration is given to both the probability of the initiating event (the source of the flood such as rainfall or a marine storm) and the probability that flood waters will reach a particular location in the floodplain, taking account of the performance of the intervening system of wetlands, channels, dams, levees, gates, floodwalls and other structures (the pathway of the flood water).

The consequences should flooding occur reflects both the vulnerability of the receptors and the chance that a given receptor will be exposed to the flood when it occurs.


SPR model


Planning Framework

The Planning Framework focuses on the importance of continuous engagement between strategy and operations with the use of a ‘tactical’ handshake to link the two. It is used to promote a continuous, collaborative approach to decision-making. 

The FAIR framework comprises three planning and decision contexts. The strategic context will produce the adaptive management plan for the assets, and the operational context will deliver and maintain the plan requirements. Interconnecting these is the tactical handshake that will feed information in both directions to inform both strategy – as to the need for adaptations, and operational practices as to what is expected from the strategic plans. 

The Future Flood Explorer developed by Sayers and Partners enabling whole system understanding of risk and adaptation portfolios.

The FFE has been used to underpin the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment flood projections (Sayers et al, 2020) and is being used in C5A to support a whole system risk analysis and exploration of the benefits and costs of adaption in Kent (here).

Future Flood Explorer (FFE)

System risk analysis Future Flood Explorer

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