The Three-Points Sponge Policy approach; toward an enhanced multi-level resilience strategy

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Urban water management is confronted with more frequent, more extreme weather events. This paper introduces the Three-Points Approach (3PA) into Sponge City concept, to create a novel framework aimed at guiding water management interventions across local, urban, regional, and river basin scales. The 3PA integrates three domains—Day-to-day, Design, and Extreme —offering a nuanced strategy for flood and drought risk mitigation, also for extreme events. Notably, the 3PA emphasizes the fusion of blue-green infrastructure (BGI) with conventional gray approaches to enhance both multifunctionality and resilience in extreme weather conditions. The study identifies critical issues of implementing this Three-Points Sponge Policy (3PSP) approach, including spatial and temporal scales, transitioning from gray to blue-green infrastructure, asset management, data handling, and effective communication. Interventions spanning various spatial scales and addressing flood protection, drought resilience, and water quality are explored in a first and indicative application in Zhengzhou. The case study distills key design principles, highlighting the imperative of never shifting problems, embracing ecosystem-based adaptation, seeking synergy between interventions, and incorporating adaptability into designs. The 3PSP approach emerges as a holistic framework that considers both risks and benefits, contributing valuable insights to the discourse on integrating urban and river basin water management, improving our ways of dealing with extreme weather events while maximizing the day-to-day benefits of our interventions.