System-based urban infrastructure management (SUIM)

Applying newly developed spatial analysis method to help reduce flood risk in east Leeds

More options for flood management are available now than ever before (for example, grey built infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage systems). Yet the challenge is to fully integrate them into existing urban infrastructure systems and to understand how connecting water management infrastructure with other urban systems (for example, transport or land use) can expand the capacity of the overall system towards achieving urban flood resilience.

This project helps urban flood risk managers by allowing them to visualise the sources of flood risk (where flood water comes from) and not just the hazard itself (where the water ends up).

Our tool helps us to explore whether existing or new urban infrastructure can play more than one role? i.e. be ‘interoperable’? Can a road by used to divert flood water? Can an open green space store it temporarily?

We do this by applying a newly developed spatial analysis (SUIM) to an example catchment in the east of Leeds – Wyke Beck, which had received funding for a Phase 1 flood scheme (completed 2020), and is currently planning Phase 2 (as of May 2021). SUIM helps compare how different infrastructure systems deal with excess water and identify how they can be integrated to make urban areas more resilient to flooding. Areas contributing to flooding are identified to inform new developments so they store or divert rainfall away from flood prone areas. It aims to identify connections, wider catchment opportunities, and funding partnerships beyond the areas of known flood hazard impacts.

The focus is initially on the Wyke Beck catchment. Recent and planned developments will be assessed to see if this new approach would or could lead to more cost effective and flood resilient design which also benefits local communities in other ways e.g. improving health, wellbeing and sustainable transport options.

The Wyke Beck case will be the basis for a user-friendly ‘interoperability tool’ for use by Leeds City Council in other parts of the city. It could also be used by councils in other cities too.


Environment Agency
Leeds City Council

Project Team

David Dawson & Amrie Singh – University of Leeds
Ben Rabb, Tom Willis – iCASP Impact Translation Fellows
David Parish & Jonathan Moxon – Leeds City Council
Luke Williams – Environment Agency


January 2020 – 2021


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