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A planning-support tool for spatial suitability assessment of green urban stormwater infrastructure

Kuller, Martijn, Bach, Peter M., Roberts, Simon, Browne, Dale, Deletic, Ana
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.686 pp. 856-868
algorithms, assets, climate change, ecosystem services, geographic information systems, governance, infrastructure, multi-criteria decision making, socioeconomics, stakeholders, stormwater, stormwater management, urban areas, urban planning, urbanization, Australia, China, Europe, United States
Distributed green stormwater management infrastructure is increasingly applied worldwide to counter the negative impacts of urbanisation and climate change, while providing a range of benefits related to ecosystem services. They are known as Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in Australia, Nature Based Solutions (NBS) in Europe, Low Impact Development (LID) in the USA, and Sponge City systems in China. Urban planning for WSUD has been ad-hoc, lacking strategy and resulting in sub-optimal outcomes. The purpose of this study is to help improve strategic WSUD planning and placement through the development of a Planning Support System. This paper presents the development of Spatial Suitability ANalysis TOol (SSANTO), a rapid GIS-based Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis tool using a flexible mix of techniques to map suitability for WSUD assets across urban areas. SSANTO applies a novel WSUD suitability framework, which conceptualises spatial suitability for WSUD implementation from two perspectives: ‘Needs’ and ‘Opportunities’ for WSUD. It combines biophysical as well as socio-economic, planning and governance criteria (‘Opportunities’) with criteria relating to ecosystem services (‘Needs’). Testing SSANTO through comparing its results to work done by a WSUD consultancy successfully verified its algorithms and demonstrated its capability to reflect and potentially enhance the outcomes of planning processes. Manual GIS based suitability analysis is time and resource intensive. Through its rapid suitability analysis, SSANTO facilitates iterative spatial analysis for exploration of scenarios and stakeholder preferences. It thus facilitates collaborative planning and deeper understanding of the relationship between diverse and complex urban contexts and urban planning outcomes for WSUD.