Assessments of sewer performance are usually based on a single computation of CSO (combined sewer overflow) volumes using a time series of rainfall as system loads. A shortcoming of this method is that uncertainties in knowledge of sewer system dimensions are not taken into account. Moreover, sewer models are rarely calibrated. This paper presents the impacts of database errors and model calibration on return periods of calculated CSO volumes. The impact of uncertainties is illustrated with two examples. Variability of calculated CSO volumes is estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. The results show that calculated CSO volumes vary considerably due to database errors, especially uncertain dimensions of the catchment area. Furthermore, event-based calibration of a sewer model does not result in more reliable predictions because the calibrated parameters have low portability. However, it enables removal of database errors harmonising model predictions and ‘reality’.

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