Assessment of flood hazard in a combined sewer system in Reykjavik city centre

Water Sci Technol. 2015;71(10):1471-7. doi: 10.2166/wst.2015.119.


Short-duration precipitation bursts can cause substantial property damage and pose operational risks for wastewater managers. The objective of this study was to assess the present and possible future flood hazard in the combined sewer system in Reykjavik city centre. The catchment is characterised by two hills separated by a plain. A large portion of the pipes in the aging network are smaller than the current minimum diameter of 250 mm. Runoff and sewer flows were modelled using the MIKE URBAN software package incorporating both historical precipitation and synthetic storms derived from annual maximum rainfall data. Results suggest that 3% of public network manholes were vulnerable to flooding during an 11-year long rainfall sequence. A Chicago Design Storm (CDS) incorporating a 10-minute rainfall burst with a 5-year return period predicted twice as many flooded manholes at similar locations. A 20% increase in CDS intensity increased the number of flooded manholes and surface flood volume by 70% and 80%, respectively. The flood volume tripled if rainfall increase were combined with urban re-development, leading to a 20% increase in the runoff coefficient. Results highlight the need for reducing network vulnerabilities, which include decreased pipe diameters and low or drastically varying pipe grades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chicago
  • Cities
  • Drainage, Sanitary
  • Floods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Rain / chemistry
  • Sewage / analysis*
  • Time Factors


  • Sewage