Posted by Kristyn Maslog-Levis on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 9:03 PM
The Future of Urban Water:
What would the state of urban water be in the next couple of years?
Well, the report The Future of Urban Water: Scenarios for Urban Water Utilities in 2040 by ARUP explores trends and future scenarios for the future of urban water utilities in 2040. It is the result of a jointly funded collaboration between Arup and Sydney Water.
“The programme has helped us gain a better understanding of possible pathways into the future, including implications for future infrastructure, governance and customer experiences.”
It depicts four plausible scenarios for the future of urban water utilities in 2040, using Sydney as a reference city. The report explores how a wide range of social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends could shape the urban water future.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2014 report said water crises is one of the top five global risks posing the highest concern. “Despite this, water issues are often overlooked or misunderstood, and there is a need for better awareness of their social, economic and environmental impacts.”
The Arup report said aside from the increasing water scarcity and pollution, rapid population growth and urbanisation are “major factors posing fundamental challenges to the global water cycle, with a particular pressure on the urban water supply”.
Australia utilises over 50 percent of its water consumption for agricultural purposes. The rest is for household, industrial and commercial use. But in urban areas, “the main driver for demand remains the population, and thus population growth”.
One of the key drivers for water conservation is smart infrastructure. It responds intelligently to changes in its environment to improve performance. “It is estimated that the market size for smart grid technologies will almost triple by 2030. Smart water networks could save the industry US$12.5 billion a year.”
Another is the change to a more digital lifestyle where people will be able to monitor the consumption and cost of water in real time. “More awareness of the issues could lead to increased scrutiny of water utilities and pricing of services. The availability of data provides an opportunity to educate customers about consumption and managing resource use.”
The report also mentioned new solutions for water supply such as the extensive use of desalination. About 96 percent of the earth’s total water supply is found in oceans. “Worldwide, desalination plants are producing over 32 million cubic metres of fresh water per day. However, energy costs are currently the principal barrier to its greater use.”
Finally, the report also said green infrastructure is part of the plan. “Benefits of increased green infrastructure include the reduction of flood risk, improved health and wellbeing as well as providing a habitat for wildlife. Extensive green networks can be formed over time to create an encompassing city ecosystem that can support the sustainable movement of people, rebuild biodiversity and provide substantial climate change adaptation.”
For more of the report, you can check this out.