Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 652–658 | Cite as

Opportunities and challenges of the Sponge City construction related to urban water issues in China

  • Jun Xia
  • YongYong Zhang
  • LiHua Xiong
  • Shan He
  • LongFeng Wang
  • ZhongBo Yu


Waterlogging is one of the major water issues in most cities of China and directly restricts their urbanization processes. The construction of Sponge City is an effective approach to solving the urban water issues, particularly for the waterlogging. In this study, both the urban issues emerged at the stage of rapid urbanization in China and the demands as well as problems of Sponge City construction related with the water issues were investigated, and the opportunities and challenges for the Sponge City construction in the future were also proposed. It was found that the current stormwater management focused on the construction of gray infrastructures (e.g., drainage network and water tank) based on the fast discharge idea, which was costly and hard to catch up with the rapid expansion of city and its impervious surface, while green infrastructures (e.g., river, lake and wetland) were ignored. Moreover, the current construction of Sponge City was still limited to low impacted development (LID) approach which was concentrated on source control measures without consideration of the critical functions of surrounding landscapes (i.e., mountain, river, wetland, forest, farmland and lake), while application of the integrated urban water system approach and its supported technologies including municipal engineering, urban hydrology, environmental science, social science and ecoscape were relatively weak and needed to be improved. Besides, the lack of special Sponge City plan and demonstration area was also a considerable problem. In this paper, some perspectives on Good Sponge City Construction were proposed such as the point that idea of urban plan and construction should conform to the integral and systematic view of sustainable urban development. Therefore, both the basic theoretical research and the basic infrastructure construction such as monitoring system, drainage facility and demonstration area should be strengthened, meanwhile, the reformation and innovation in the urban water management system and the education system should also be urgently performed. The study was expected to provide a deeper thinking for the current Sponge City construction in China and to give some of suggestions for the future directions to urban plan and construction, as well as urban hydrology discipline.


Sponge City Waterlogging Integrated water system approach Opportunities and challenges China 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41571028), and Key Programs of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KFZD-SW-301).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Water Resources & Hydropower Engineering SciencesWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.CPG Consultants Pte LtdSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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