Science Inventory

Sustainable Water Systems for the City of Tomorrow—A Conceptual Framework


Ma, Cissy, X. Xue, A. Gonzalez-Mejia, J. Garland, J. Cashdollar, AND a. mejia. Sustainable Water Systems for the City of Tomorrow—A Conceptual Framework. Sustainability. MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland, 7(9):12071-12105, (2015).


Urban water systems are facing enormous challenges. The century-old siloed approaches to water services can neither satisfy the demand of modern urban water system nor will face the challenges of the future. A paradigm shift based on holistic management is required to design sustainable water systems. This paper will not only present the alternative options to traditional approaches, but more importantly show an example how these components can be designed together as an organic whole. The paper will serve as a catalyst to transform current urban water systems towards more sustainable future.


Urban water systems are an example of complex, dynamic human-environment coupled systems, which exhibit emergent behaviors that transcends individual scientific disciplines. While previous siloed approaches to water services (i.e., water resources, drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater) have led to great improvements in public health protection, sustainable solutions for a growing global population facing increased resource constraints demand a paradigm shift based on holistic management to maximize the use and recovery of water, energy, nutrients, and materials. Issues with existing centralized water systems are reviewed to illustrate the key challenges to address through alternative approaches. A design for urban water system is presented, not as the recommended solution for all environments, but to emphasize the need to visualize water services as an organic whole.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 09/01/2015
Record Last Revised: 09/29/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 309179