Towards Water-Wise Cities

Brisbane – Never Wasting Water


Extreme events are bringing the city closer together towards planning in partnership

In the past two decades, Brisbane has experienced the millennium drought (1995 – 2009) and two significant floods (2011 and 2013), and as a subtropical city it is also affected by frequent and severe storms. These experiences have driven Brisbane to adapt, recover and thrive in the face of these climatic events. Brisbane City Council is working closely with local stakeholders to achieve a vision of a clean and green city, increasing the use of natural assets and implementing adaptation measures for flood and sea level rise.

The floods and droughts in Brisbane have highlighted the importance of managing water at all stages of the water cycle and have reshaped Brisbane’s relationship with water. With community education strategies and sharpened government policies on water conservation, recycling, and reuse, Brisbane has become a city of water savers. One significant success story is that Brisbane residents reduced their water consumption from 300 to 127 litres per day during the Millennium Drought (Brisbane’s Total Water Cycle Management Plan).

© IWA | Brisbane

Copenhagen – Preparing for the “New Normal”


Adjusting to climate challenges with smart design

Copenhagen is a northern harbour city which has experienced a number of severe rainfall events, namely cloudbursts, with the largest pouring down in July 2011. The damages amounted to around 1 billion US dollars, and climate projections predict even larger events in the future. Protecting citizens and businesses from the impacts of climate change, while also continuing to secure high quality drinking water for a growing population are the concerns related to water.

Copenhagen is addressing impacts from climate change through their Climate Adaptation Plan and a new Cloudburst Management Plan (CMP) launched in 2011, which is the world’s first city wide plan for controlled storm water for a 100-year storm. The plan has been developed in a close partnership the Greater Copenhagen Utility, owned by a number of municipalities in the Greater Copenhagen Region. The CMP proposes infrastructure levels to manage storm water in the city, with solutions that collect, delay and lead storm water to final outlets in the harbour, preventing entry in the sewers. Copenhagen is taking strides to waterproof their city, with demonstration areas and co-creation with local stakeholders.

© IWA | Copenhagen

Dakar – Reaching Past the Limits


Innovations to meet the rapid expansion on a peninsula

Dakar’s urban population is under pressure from rapid population and urban growth. This massive urban expansion leads to overpopulation and construction in restricted areas, creating illegal slums without planned infrastructure including proper drainage and sewage systems. Currently, 2.5 million people are without sufficient sanitation services and infrastructure cannot keep up with the population.

In an effort to relieve these pressures, ONAS, the National Sewerage Company, is improving faecal sludge management (FSM) services in urban and peri-urban areas by restructuring the delivery of sanitation services. One big success so far has been the implementation of a call centre for faecal waste trucks. The call centre enables competition among the truck companies, lowering the service price and increasing the efficiency of waste removal. This measure has been so successful that other African cities have approached ONAS to learn from their method.

ONAS has learnt that in order to develop a successful FSM sector which is accessible, sustainable, and affordable, it is important to first: promote public-private partnerships, train waste collectors, implement regulations on FSM, diversify investment sources, encourage research and development, and increase awareness on the value of by-products from FSM and wastewater treatment.

© IWA | Dakar

Gothenburg – Water From All Sides


Becoming water-wise is their prerogative

Built into a low-lying swamp area near the Göta River estuary, Gothenburg finds itself in a strategic yet vulnerable place. Flood risks and sea level rise are the two most important challenges the city is now facing. Fortunately, Gothenburg has not dealt with many major crises or natural disasters over the last decades. Still, they are looking towards the future and focusing on collaboration across administrations and stakeholders to ensure early adaptation and mitigation against the impacts of climate change.

The Strategic Climate Programme for Gothenburg, coordinated by the Environmental Office, and “Green Gothenburg” are good examples of collaboration between city administrations, companies and a range of industrial and research experts on climate action. In 2017, Gothenburg endorsed the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities, wasting no time in incorporating this framework as reinforcement to their city planning. The Mayor of Gothenburg, Ann-Sofie Hermansson, presented urban water management as a constant and critical part of the sustainability agenda. In Gothenburg, “water wisdom” means smart adaptation as city life is becoming ever more entwined with water.

© IWA | Gothenburg
© IWA | Water-Wise Cities

Kampala City – A City Taking Action


The Ugandan city will take action against flooding and insecurity

Kampala is Uganda’s largest city and is located at the periphery of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water lake. Kampala is rapidly growing, with economic opportunities driving the rural-urban migration, and consequently increasing the rate of informal settlements. With the current and projected increase in precipitation intensity under all climate change scenarios, flooding is ultimately one of the major risks to infrastructure, human settlements, and the industrial, health, and business sectors in Kampala City.

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is focusing their efforts on becoming a water sensitive city in regards to flood vulnerabilities and water security, using the Kampala Physical Development Plan. KCCA has also established partnerships with National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), government ministries, development agencies, NGOs, the private sector and local communities to implement various projects that address sustainable urban water systems. Improvements will include the expansion of stormwater drains in flood-prone areas, as well as updating the Kampala Drainage Master Plan of 2003 to help plan a city-wide strategy to reduce flood impacts.

© IWA | Kampala
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Kunshan – Absorbing the Pressure


Kunshan joins China’s other Sponge Cities with polder power

Due to the city’s low-lying nature, Kunshan, a city in China’s Jiangsu Province, has faced frequent inundation throughout time. They have adapted by adopting a polder landscape; a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes with connection to waterways through gates and pumps. This dike and polder technology similar to the Dutch design make traditional floodplains liveable. However, climate change will likely increase the vulnerability of Kunshan to flooding and stormwaters within the polder system.

Kunshan’s overarching strategy is to develop into a Sponge City, like the other cities in China’s ever-expanding waterproofing approach. Managing stormwater pollution at the source and harvesting it for non-potable use will help transform the city into a water supply catchment. This city-wide strategy is important, not only to reduce urban pollution in regional waterways, but also to mitigate flood risks for downstream cities. Focusing on cities ensures a safe water supply in the context of population and urban growth by reducing the level of dependency on an external source.

© IWA | Kunshan

Lyon –Building a Sustainable Future


The well-known historical city is tackling new challenges

Lyon, the beautiful French city at the intersection of the Rhone and Saone rivers, is expecting some changes. Between now and 2030, Lyon expects its population to grow by 300,000 new inhabitants, of which 150,000 in the CBD. The densification of the city is likely to pose many problems if not addressed ahead of time; such as increasing imperviousness, overuse of groundwater, and urban heat islands. Climate change in the region is likely to increase the number and intensity of floods and droughts affecting the growing city.

Lyon has long-term experience in integrated water resources management, and has recently updated its urban masterplan in order to develop the city around its water resources. As part of the masterplan, the « Miribel Jonage » area was redeveloped to include natural flooding areas upstream to better protect the city against flooding from the Rhône. Lyon’s vision is to be able to preserve its environment and all aquatic ecosystems in the basin, in order to sustain the natural water cycle in urban areas and beyond. It recognises that integrating water in urban planning is key to achieving this sustainable future.

© IWA | Lyon

Melbourne – Community is the Focus


How the sunny Australian city is working together to meet their challenges

Melbourne currently holds the “world’s most liveable city” status, and the sunny Australian landscape certainly helps. Faced with the millennium drought, Melbourne had to find a way to effectively approach the challenges of climate change and a growing population whilst maintaining their liveable city status. They accomplished this through sharing knowledge, resources, and community involvement. A successful community education and action campaign provided a clear challenge to achieve a water use target of 155 L/person/day, supported by regular updates and reinforcing the importance of individual contributions.

By continuing to build on a collaborative culture with a proactive and adaptive approach to managing their water supply and river health, Melbourne is focused on meeting the challenges of the future. With a population that is expected to grow to over 10 million by 2051 and a climate that will get hotter, drier and more variable, tough choices and trade-offs are inevitable. Adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Resilient Melbourne strategy are two examples of the actions that will help Melbourne succeed.

© IWA | Melbourne
© IWA | Water-Wise Cities

Perth – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


The Australian city on the edge of the country rises to face extremes

Perth is on the frontier of extremes, isolated from all other major cities in Australia on the largely wild west coast. Perth’s declining water availability from both surface and groundwater sources is well recognised. The Western Australian Water Corporation predicts a 40% decline in rainfall by 2060, and the need for an additional 365 gigalitres of reticulated drinking water for Perth and surrounding towns – that’s the same amount as 146,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, or 3/4 of the water in the Sydney Harbour! Despite a 20% reduction in water use since 2001, metropolitan Perth still remains one of the highest water consuming cities in Australia.

In order to transition to a water sensitive city, the city’s operations, businesses and community need to optimise their use of water by reducing consumption where possible and increasing the use of non-drinking water sources, such as greywater, rainwater and wastewater, to name a few. The City of Perth is a founding partner in the Waterwise Office Program aimed at reducing water use in commercial properties in the CBD. This “program provides water use performance indicators to assess whether a building is water efficient and helps to identify opportunities for improvement. Since the introduction of this program in 2013, Perth offices larger than 5000m2 have saved more than 254 billion litres of water!” (Water Corporation)

© IWA | Perth

Shenzhen – A Burgeoning Metropolis


The booming Chinese city will follow the sponge city approach

The city of Shenzhen was established in 1979, and in a swift 36 years, this tiny border town of just over 30,000 people has grown into a modern metropolis. However, rapid urbanization has brought with it many challenges, including serious water crises in the form of stormwater pollutionand flood risks.

The city is gearing up for an uncertain future ahead, and has established a flood control program called the “Shenzhen Water Strategy.” The four basic measures of the Strategy are: the protection of water resources, the recovery of water in the environment, the guarantee of water safety, and the enhancement of visible water. To complement this strategy, the city has also come up with “The Working Plan of Shenzhen’s Flood Control and Water Improvement (2015-2020),” influenced by the Sponge City concept as an important component for all future development.

Anton Strogonoff

Singapore – Turning Isolation Into Opportunity


The international hub is turning less into more

This international port city is no stranger to shifting tides. With limited land to collect and store rainwater, Singapore has faced drought, floods and water pollution in their early years of nation building. These challenges inspired Singapore to strategize and seek innovative ideas thereby developing capabilities and securing a sustainable supply of water.

Currently, Singapore has built a robust and diversified supply of water from 4 different sources: water from local catchments, imported water, NEWater (high-grade reclaimed water) and desalinated water. Both NEWater and desalinated water have allowed Singapore to become more resilient towards weather variability and keep up with the growing demand for water resources. By 2060, the total water demand could almost double, with the non-domestic sector accounting for nearly 70%. By then, NEWater and desalination will meet up to 85% of Singapore’s future water demand.

© IWA | Water-Wise Cities

Sydney – A Resilient, Cool and Green City


How the Australian harbour city is changing its behaviour to water?

The millennium drought affected all of Australia, and certainly it’s star city Sydney. This drought caused serious water security concerns for Sydney in the past, and further strain on the current water supplies is expected into the future. The predicted impacts of climate change and population growth translate into an increase by 30% of current water demand by 2030. In the face of these challenges, the City of Sydney is developing a strategy to drought-proof the city and “keep it green and cool, “starting with a target to maintain the potable water use at the 2006 consumption level.

The city is transforming into a water sensitive city that is resilient, cool, green, and productive. The water management approach to reduce vulnerability to droughts in the future include: using less water through behaviour change, followed by using water efficient fixtures and fittings, reducing stormwater pollution, minimising local flood risk, and enhancing greening and urban cooling through retrofitting the stormwater management network with raingardens, wetlands, swales and gross pollutant traps.

Xi'an – Depending on Dams


The city on the Yellow River is adjusting to water deficiency

Xi’an is located in the middle of the Yellow River basin, one of the largest river basins in the world. Even with all this water around, the city still faces severe water shortages for a growing population. Due to the lack of rainfall, overconsumption of surface water, and regulations on groundwater, more than 70% of the total water supply has depended on dams in the Qinling Mountains, 140 km away from the city.

As local water resources are insufficient, the basic principles for urban water management focus on water conservation and reuse. Water saving, multifunctional and cascaded water use, rainwater harvesting, and water reclamation are important measures in the urban water management plan implemented by Xi’an Water Authority.

© IWA | Xi'an

Amsterdam – Bring on the Rain


How the Dutch are mainstreaming adaptation through an integrated network approach?

Cycling through the Rain Since a cloudburst in the summer of 2014 and many more severe cloudbursts since then in other regions of the Netherlands, the urgency for a way to adapt this buzzing international city grew. Hence Waternet, the well-known innovative water utility of Amsterdam and its surroundings, created Amsterdam Rainproof.

What is Amsterdam Rainproof? The Amsterdam Rainproof platform is a unique collaborative network of public administration entities, entrepreneurs and citizen initiatives. Together, they are committed to making Amsterdam more resilient to extreme rainfall both on the small and large scales in its buildings, gardens, and public areas. To start the Amsterdam Rainproof network, Waternet initiated a special programme from 2014-2017 which actively facilitated and supported all relevant stakeholders in the city. Through dialogues, events, demand driven tool development, and coaching, more than 60 stakeholder organisations are now committed and more than 50 physical rainproof projects have been realized.

© IWA | Water-Wise Cities