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Kostas Test 2

This is a test Innovation report

Roads for Water

The impact of roads on landscapes and surface hydrology is now often negative. Roads cause erosion. They trigger sedimentation and cause local flooding. Road bodies are a main reason for drainage congestion and water logging. Wetland hydrology is disturbed by roads and fish movement affected, In some desert regions, roads trigger sand dune movement. This impact of roads on the surrounding landscape is not going to diminish. It will rather increase. In the coming decades many more roads and railways will be constructed. Besides, climate change is causing more droughts and floods.

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The negative effect of roads on the environment can be reversed if roads are systematically used as instruments for rainwater harvesting. Thus, road harvesting can generate substantial positive impacts: more secure water supply, better soil moisture, reduced erosion and respite from harmful damage. In addition, rainwater harvesting leads to better returns to land and labour, and a higher ability of people, households and communities to deal with and prosper regardless of shocks and stresses.

TRL6. Prototype system verified
Technology demonstrated in relevant environment. Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in a simulated operational environment. Since 2015, we have promoted and implemented the Roads for Water concept in Sub-saharan Africa. All technologies have been implemented on the field and socio-economic and hydrological monitoring has been carried out.

See more information about this level and the TRL and SRL levels.

The main components of the system have been tested separately, and an initial integration exercise has been conducted.

Credits
Collaborators

How does it work?

Road infrastructure itself can be used to harvest water and redistribute run-off to areas where it is beneficial. Roads either act as an embankment that guide water or act as a drain that channel rainwater. This can be used in a systematic way. The amount of water that can be harvested depends on the rainfall pattern, the catchment area as defined by the road, the rainfall patterns and the land use and soil characteristics within the catchment area. There are many technologies that can be applied such as the construction of ponds harvesting water from culverts and roadside drainage, trenches and flood-water spreaders

Limitations/conditions under which this innovation does not work or is less effective

Added value
Nowadays, the concern for resilient roads often translates into a protective approach, whereby the road infrastructure is safeguarded at any cost to more inclement weather. In this protective resilience approach specifications of road infrastructure are adjusted so as to accommodate temperature rise and to bebetter able to withstand the expected larger flood peaks. The central concern hence is the road itself. The downside of this protective approach is that road itself indeed may be sheltered from the impact of higher flood peaks with better cross-drainage. This is essential to keep the economy running. However the landscape around the roads will suffer even more from the effects of climate change, as all extreme weather events are immediately passed on to the area surrounding the road – causing larger floods and more inundation and heavier erosion. The second downside is that no use is made of the potential of roads to contribute to water management and more resilience in the entire area of which they are part. Instead we argue that by integrating water management in road development and design, a ‘Plus’ strategy to road resilience can be taken. The environment around the road is managed and the road is made part of the landscape – even using roads as a beneficial instrument for water management. In most cases this roads for water approach will equally reduce the damage to the roads and bring down maintenance and sometimes even construction costs. By making roads that can serve several additional purposes beyond transport and by making these part of the design and development of roads, it is possible to create roads that (1) reduce the now often substantial collateral damage that uncontrolled road water does to the landscape around it (2) are likely to have lower maintenance costs and down-time and are generally better able to withstand weather effects including those that are caused by climate change; and (3) generate substantial benefits in terms of water harvested with the roads and other beneficial water management functions. In other words rather than being a source of landscape degradation, can become instruments for climate change resilience.

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