Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Research article
04 Dec 2013
Research article |  | 04 Dec 2013

Assessing the hydrologic restoration of an urbanized area via an integrated distributed hydrological model

D. H. Trinh and T. F. M. Chui

Abstract. Green structures (e.g. green roof and bio-retention systems) are adopted to mitigate the hydrological impacts of urbanization. However, our current understanding of urbanization impacts are often process-specific (e.g. peak flow or storm recession), and our characterizations of green structures are often on a local scale. This study uses an integrated distributed hydrological model, Mike SHE, to evaluate the urbanization impacts on both overall water balance and water regime, and also the effectiveness of green structures at a catchment level. Three simulations are carried out for a highly urbanized catchment in the tropics, representing pre-urbanized, urbanized and restored conditions. Urbanization transforms vegetated areas into impervious surfaces, resulting in 20 and 66% reductions in infiltration and base flow respectively, and 60 to 100% increase in peak outlet discharge. Green roofs delay the peak outlet discharge by 2 h and reduce the magnitude by 50%. Bio-retention systems mitigate the peak discharge by 50% and also enhance infiltration by 30%. The combination of green roofs and bio-retention systems even reduces the peak discharge to the pre-urbanized level. The simulation results obtained are independent of field data, enabling a generic model for understanding hydrological changes during the different phases of urbanization. This will benefit catchment-level planning of green structures in other urban areas.