Water demand management: a key building block for sustainable urban water management.
2011-03-25T10:12:30Z (GMT) by
It is becoming clearer, even to non-members of the scientific community that the rapidly increasing global population, coupled with the impacts of climatic change are major contributors to the looming water scarcity. Water scarcity is acknowledged to be a key barrier to attainment of MDGs in low-income countries. Currently, about 30 countries are considered to be water stressed, of which 20 are absolutely water scarce. It is projected that by 2050, about one-third of the population in the developing world will face severe shortage The water scarcity situation will get worse in the world’s urban areas, which have grown to the extent that since early 2007, urban areas account for over half of the world’s population. The alarming rate of water scarcity, coupled with widespread environmental degradation has brought into focus the need for planned action to manage water resources in a more effective and sustainable manner. The dwindling water resources need to be optimally managed while minimising the negative impact on the environment. The EU-funded SWITCH project was conceived arising out of a realisation that continued application of the conventional urban water management (UWM) concept will not deliver the required results in the future. The main objective of the SWITCH project is “the development, application and demonstration of a range of tested scientific, technological and socio-economic solutions and approaches that contribute to the achievement of the sustainable and effective UWM schemes in ‘The City of the future’”. The SWITCH project is a multi-disciplinary integrated research project that aims at creating a paradigm shift in urban water management. This paper highlights limitations of the conventional urban water management, and explains the concepts of the more robust integrated resource planning and demand management (DM) approaches, that need to be adopted to respond to the rapidly changing environmental conditions. DM is a central theme of the SWITCH project. Specific activities contributing to DM include (i) developing and testing holistic demand management tools, in order to reduce water wastage on the side of the service provider and the consumer; and (ii) providing capacity building to service providers on DM. The paper will describe how these activities are being carried out in the City of Zarogoza, Spain, one of the SWITCH Project demonstration cities.