Relationship between infiltration, sewer rehabilitation, and groundwater flooding in coastal urban areas

  • Xin Su
  • Ting Liu
  • Maryam Beheshti
  • Valentina PrigiobbeEmail author
Advances in Receiving Water Quality Models


The aging of sewer networks is a serious issue in urban areas because of the reduced functionality of the system that can have negative impact on the urban environment. Aging pipes are not water-tight anymore and they can leak untreated sewage or allow infiltration of groundwater. In the latter case, more frequent combined sewer overflows (CSOs) may occur. Generally, prompt intervention to repair damaged conduits is envisaged. However, in low-lying coastal regions, sewer systems may provide an unplanned drainage that controls the groundwater table from flooding the urban ground. Here, a study is presented to investigate the influence of the repair of damaged sewer on the water table of an urban shallow aquifer. Sewer and groundwater models were built to describe the effect of sewer replacement. Based on a real dataset, simulations were run for a city located along an estuary. Results show that the presence of infiltration into the sewer system increases the frequency of CSOs, which trigger the discharge of untreated sewage after a minor precipitation or even in dry weather conditions. As the sewer is repaired, CSO spills diminish occurring only upon significant precipitation. However, the water table rises and eventually, during the high tide, the groundwater floods the low-lying part of the city. Overall, this work highlights the susceptibility of shallow aquifers in coastal urban areas and suggests that they should be regarded in flooding predictions.


Aging infrastructure Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) Coastal urban areas Groundwater flooding Hydrologic modelling Sewer infiltration Urban hydrology 



The authors would like to thank the Municipality of Hoboken, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and Dewberry Company for providing, respectively, the high resolution map of the impervious surface, the geology, and the data of the water table. The authors would also like to thank the North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) for the information and the maps of the sewer network.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental, and Ocean EngineeringStevens Institute of TechnologyHobokenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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