EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Optimisation of Urban-Rural Nature-Based Solutions for Integrated Catchment Water Management 

Leyang Liu, Barnaby Dobson, and Ana Mijic
Leyang Liu et al.
  • Imperial College London, Civil and Environmental Engineering, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (

Nature-based solutions (NBS) have co-benefits for water availability, water quality, and flood management. However, searching for optimal integrated urban-rural NBS planning to maximise co-benefits at a catchment scale is still limited by fragmented evaluation. This study develops an integrated urban-rural NBS planning optimisation framework based on the CatchWat-SD model, which is developed to simulate a multi-catchment integrated water cycle in the Norfolk region, UK. Three rural (runoff attenuation features, regenerative farming, floodplain) and two urban (urban green space, constructed wastewater wetlands) NBS interventions are integrated into the model at a range of implementation scales. A many-objective optimization problem with seven water management objectives to account for flow, quality and cost indicators is formulated, and the NSGAII algorithm is adopted to search for optimal NBS portfolios. Results show that rural NBS have more significant impacts across the catchment, which increase with the scale of implementation. Integrated urban-rural NBS planning can improve water availability, water quality, and flood management simultaneously, though trade-offs exist between different objectives. Runoff attenuation features and floodplains provide the greatest benefits for water availability. Regenerative farming is most effective for water quality and flood management, though it decreases water availability by up to 15% because it retains more water in the soil. Phosphorus levels are best reduced by expansion of urban green space to decrease loading on combined sewer systems, though this trades off against water availability, flood, nitrogen and suspended solids. The proposed framework enables spatial prioritisation of NBS, which may ultimately guide multi-stakeholder decision-making, bridging the urban-rural divide in catchment water management. 

How to cite: Liu, L., Dobson, B., and Mijic, A.: Optimisation of Urban-Rural Nature-Based Solutions for Integrated Catchment Water Management , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10360,, 2023.