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The economics of managing heavy rains and stormwater in Copenhagen


Source: EVM   Landskab






591.481. (2016)

Climate Impact(s)



Adaptation measures financed

  •   Stormwater runoff management measures
  •   Detention areas to store large volume of waters

Financing source(s)





Municipality   budget



Supporting   regulations


Financing type(s)

Direct funding  

Financing mechanism(s)

Water charges managed through   municipal budget and private investments

Summary Description: Following a disastrous flood in 2011, the   city developed a Cloudburst Management Plan to reduce the impacts of pluvial   flooding due to heavy rains, which are expected to increase in frequency as a   result of climate change. The plan builds on a detailed socio-economic   assessment to ascertain which combination of cloudburst and stormwater   measures can pay off for society as a whole. It has shown that continuing to   focus on traditional sewage systems would result in a negative societal gain.   Solutions that combine grey and green measures such as retention areas and   natural drainage would result in a net saving.

The Cloudburst Management Plan   operates with a minimum time frame of 20 years, requiring a prioritisation of   individual projects in line with the Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan.  300 interlinked projects are planned and   partially already implemented. It is estimated that around 15 projects a year   will be carried out in the next 20-30 years.

The total costs (around 1.5   billion EURO) incurred by the City of Copenhagen, Capital Area Supply Company   (HOFOR) and private landowners will be shared. The part of the combined   solutions concerned with managing water is financed through the water charges.   If the implementation of the cloudburst and stormwater management is   coordinated with other construction projects in the city money can be saved.   The combined solution additionally necessitates private individuals to invest   in anti-flood backflow valves etc. and local drainage of stormwater. 

Main Challenge for implementation:

The prioritisation of the   projects emphasizes large-scale projects, which will require cooperation   between municipalities and also private land owners.

Main success factor for implementation:

The economic assessment that shows that the costs   of damage to Copenhagen if nothing is done to adapt the current runoff and   sewage system are higher compared to adaptation options is a strong argument.   In particular green infrastructure measures make the city safer and nicer and   attract people and businesses. An amendment of the Danish water sector act in   2012 clarified that water companies can invest in adaptation and use water   charges.


Jan Rasmussen
  The City of Copenhagen
  Technical and Environmental Administration

Long version on Climate-ADAPT:

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