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A warning for future water-resilient cities


A new paper published by the UK Water Partnership has flagged up major challenges the UK needs to address to develop water resilient cities in the future. The paper was prepared by UKWRIP’s Water and Cities Action Group to identify opportunities and challenges that UK cities will face in future and need to embrace in order to be adaptable. 

The paper recognises that the fundamental needs of water supply, waste water treatment and drainage services, also extend to safeguarding many indirect benefits including health, wellbeing and biodiversity.


Tackling Water Cycle Management:

The paper suggests five different strategies to tackle the issue of water cycle management in the year 2065: 

  • Vision 1 – Green Food & Garden Cityscapes: More food is grown both in and on buildings
  • Vision 2 – Flood-proof Cities: City areas floating on stilts are designed to withstand sea-level rise
  • Vision 3 – Smart Homes & City Networks: Data-hubs interact to ensure optimal management of water supply
  • Vision 4 – Cities & the Underworld: Geology beneath cities is harnessed to deliver effective drainage
  • Vision 5 – Community Transition Cities: Utility-run programmes change communities’ water-related habits


Water Resilience: 

The paper argues that ensuring the necessary technologies are feasible and available is crucial, and highlights eight interconnected challenges which need to be set for cities’ water resilience to be secured:

  1. Water Quantity/Quality for Life, Health & Leisure – embracing the most fundamental water needs of urban communities
  2. End-user & City-dweller Behaviour/Demand – focusing on the need to use water more efficiently and to cut overall demand
  3. Infrastructure: Above Ground – assessing whether centralised or decentralised arrangements are best
  4. Infrastructure: Below Ground – considering how buried underground infrastructure interact with the natural environment
  5. City Groundwater Management – encompassing the function, governance and sustainable of urban groundwater
  6. Risk & Resilience to Extreme Events – understanding the risks cities face
  7. Environment & Ecosystems – evaluating the impact that future cities will have on the wider environment
  8. Cross-cutting Issues & Whole-system Approaches – water management  issues are not specific to one particular use


City Simulators:

The paper also states that city simulators have a potentially valuable role to play in developing, testing and evaluating these new ideas to potentially help shape the future of water in our UK cities. 

Click here to find out more about Future Visions for water and cities: a thought piece.