Development of a transitioning approach to reduce surface water volumes in combined sewer systems

  • Kerry Smith

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The overarching goal of this research is to establish a successful forum for a transition from the existing paradigm of managing wastewater infrastructure to a more sustainable paradigm that achieves a more efficient utilisation of wastewater assets.
    A transitioning approach to support a more efficient utilisation of surface water and wastewater assets and infrastructure is proposed and developed. The determined transitioning approach possesses key stages namely developing the arena, developing the agenda, case study, and monitoring. The case study stage investigates a drainage utility identifying their improvement drivers, the removal of surface water through detailed drainage modelling and the financial examination of the costs incurred under the various scenarios conducted.
    Understanding the implications of removing/attenuating surface water from the network is improved through obtaining data by detailed drainage modelling. Infoworks software is used to investigate and assess the current and future operational scenarios of a wastewater system operating over one calendar year. Modelling scenarios were conducted removing surface water from selected areas focusing on the volumes requiring pumping and durations of pumping station(s) operation prior to treatment during storm conditions.
    The financial implication of removing surface water in combined sewer systems is examined in three main components. Firstly the costs of electricity incurred at the single sewage pumping station (SPS) investigated during the various scenarios modelled require to be addressed. Secondly the costs to retrofit sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) solutions needs to be identified. Thirdly the implications of removing surface water for the drainage utility at the national level and the potential saving for householder’s committing to a surface water disconnection rebate scheme.
    When addressed at the macro level i.e., with over 2,100 pumping stations, some operating in sequence and contained within one drainage utility annually treating 315,360 megalitres the significance of the same multiple quantifiable and intangible benefits becomes amplified.
    The research aims, objectives and findings are presented to the identified and convened stakeholders. The transitioning approach developed encourages positive discourse between stakeholders. The level of success of the transitioning approach determined is then tested using a quantitative methodology through the completion of questionnaires. From the questionnaires completed the respondents unanimously agreed that surface water flows should be removed as well as reduced from the combined sewer system.
    The respondents agreed that the removal of surface water from a typical combined sewer system is justified by applying a transitioning approach focusing on the energy consumption required to pump increased volumes during storm events. This response is significant based upon the economic evidence and is contrary to the respondents previous position that finance was their most influencing factor. When provided with other potentially available benefits the respondents were even more supportive of the justification to remove surface water from the combined sewer system.
    The combined findings of the work presented in this thesis provide further justification that the transitioning approach applied to the removal of surface water from a typical combined sewer system, as determined in this research has been successful.
    Date of AwardMay 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Abertay University
    SponsorsScottish Water
    SupervisorDavid J. Blackwood (Supervisor) & Rebecca Wade (Supervisor)


    • Transition
    • Surface water
    • Sustainable urban drainage systems SUDS
    • Water sensitive urban design WSUD
    • Retrofit
    • Raingarden
    • Disconnection
    • Combined sewer
    • Modelling
    • Pitt review
    • Stormwater
    • Scottish Water

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