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integrated urban water management

Urban Water Blueprint: Natural Solutions to the Global Water Challenge

Daniel Shemie's picture

Daniel Shemie is the Director of Water Funds for The Nature Conservancy. 
Robert McDonald is the Senior Scientist of Urban Sustainability for The Nature Conservancy.

Photo credit: Scott Warren
Copyright: The Nature Conservancy

Each year, cities around the world spend $90 billion to build infrastructure that’s used to deliver and treat water. To meet the needs of growing urban populations, some cities transport clean water thousands of kilometers to their residents, while other cities invest in more complex technology to treat local water resources. But nature has an important role to play in water delivery and treatment, one that has gone largely untapped. 
 
​The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the International Water Association, has released a new report, Urban Water Blueprint: Mapping Conservation Solutions to the Global Water Challenge, which analyzes the state of water among more than 2,000 water sources and 530 cities worldwide. The report offers science-based recommendations for natural solutions that can be integrated alongside traditional infrastructure to improve water quality.

Integrated Water Management in Cities: Can we get it right this time?

While on its path to becoming the largest city in the Americas, Sao Paulo used its natural capital - water - to generate electricity, fuel industry, and satiate its ever-growing population. Natural infrastructure was traded for the concrete form and the city’s great rivers paid a high price for industrialization.

The result? Tremendous growth (averaging 5% per annum) that stimulated rapid and unplanned migration to the city and environmental pollution.  Urban sprawl generated little to no infrastructure for managing water, sanitation and wastewater, or solid waste.  Clearing the land for houses caused erosion and compacted soils, and the resulting increase in runoff has made an already wet city even more prone to floods.  

In Windhoek, Integrated Urban Water Management is Key to Closing the Water Loop

The city of Windhoek is probably best known for the fact that it is the world pioneer of drinking water reclamation from purified sewage effluent.

Windhoek lies in the heart of Namibia, the most arid Country in Sub Saharan Africa. All existing water resources are optimally utilized in a number of different ways. Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) lies at the heart of these approaches, both in using water that is fit for purpose and in diversifying water sources.