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KEYS - Vorreitertechnologien für eine nachhaltige Bewirtschaftung städtischer Einzugsgebiete als Schlüsselfaktor zur erfolgreichen Umsetzung des "Schwammstadt"-Konzepts

Research Projects

Smart Technologies for Sustainable Water Management in Urban Catchments as KEY Contribution to Sponge Cities

Leaders:  Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stephan Köster
Team:  Manig, N.; Feng, T.; Elsner, K.; Kabisch, N.; Itani, H.; Feldkämper, I.;
Year:  2018
Sponsors:  Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) im Rahmen der Initiative "CLIENT II - Internationale Partnerschaften für nachhaltige Innovationen"
Lifespan:  08/2018 - 01/2022

In close coordination with local implementation partners, the KEYS joint project in the capital Beijing addresses the "sponge city concept" that is being pursued with great energy in China. Another wastewater technology focus is being pursued in the metropolis of Shenzhen. Beijing was also nominated as a pilot sponge city in 2016. The associated pilot measures are currently being implemented in the Tongzhou district of Beijing, where the Beijing city government recently moved to. The Sponge City measures will be scientifically supported by the Tongzhou Mega Water Project. Tsinghua University is in charge of the project. KEYS is the German contribution to the ongoing Mega Water Project, which will be completed in 2020.

In China, the concept of the sponge city has become a central factor in urban development. A concerted green and blue infrastructure on urban surfaces will be created, which should bring considerable advantages in terms of rainwater management in the future. The main trigger for the nationwide requirements for the implementation of the Sponge City concept was recurring or even intensity-increasing urban flash floods, which caused considerable damage. But further considerations on the storage and use of rainwater are also central elements of the Sponge City Concept.

The German contribution by KEYS not only addresses these elements and the composition of sponge city areas, but also concentrates on previously less considered issues such as material and hygienic issues. How polluted are the rainfalls in sponge cities? What are the treatment requirements before storage and use?

The numerous demonstrations contained in KEYS make the German contributions to innovation particularly visible. These will be implemented primarily in Beijing but also in Shenzhen. Specifically, these include adapted retention soil filter technologies, use of mobile measuring units for extended data acquisition in urban catchment areas, further development of individual sponge city elements and comprehensive approaches to modelling. But also the connection of the sponge city areas to the (existing) underground drainage infrastructure as well as the inclusion of resulting (material) effects on the sewage treatment plants will be comprehensively investigated together with the Chinese responsible persons.

The changes in future urban development initiated in China are on the one hand a very good opportunity to introduce German innovations. On the other hand, however, the experience gained in China will be of great value for promoting adapted and forward-looking water-sensitive urban development in Germany as well.


Management of the joint project

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stephan Köster
Institute of Sanitary Engineering and Waste Management , Leibniz University of Hanover (ISAH)


German partners in the network

- Institute of Sanitary Engineering and Waste Management , Leibniz University of Hanover (ISAH)

- KWB -  Berlin Center of Competence for Water

- Dahlem Consulting Engineers GmbH & Co. Water Management KG, Essen

- Steinhardt Water Technology GmbH, Taunusstein, Germany

- NIVUS GmbH, Eppingen, Germany - MARTIN Systems AG, Berlin, Germany

- BPI Hannover Verworn Consulting Engineers, Hannover

- AKUT Environmental Protection Engineers Burkard und Partner, Berlin

Chinese Network Partners

- Tsinghua University, Beijing

- Chinese actors from industry and science from Chinese network to implement the mega water project "Sponge City Tongzhou"

- Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen

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