A Research Agenda for the Future of Urban Water Management: Exploring the Potential of Nongrid, Small-Grid, and Hybrid Solutions

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Recent developments in high- and middle-income countries have exhibited a shift from conventional urban water systems to alternative solutions that are more diverse in source separation, decentralization, and modularization. These solutions include nongrid, small-grid, and hybrid systems to address such pressing global challenges as climate change, eutrophication, and rapid urbanization. They close loops, recover valuable resources, and adapt quickly to changing boundary conditions such as population size. Moving to such alternative solutions requires both technical and social innovations to coevolve over time into integrated socio-technical urban water systems. Current implementations of alternative systems in high- and middle-income countries are promising, but they also underline the need for research questions to be addressed from technical, social, and transformative perspectives. Future research should pursue a transdisciplinary research approach to generating evidence through socio-technical "lighthouse" projects that apply alternative urban water systems at scale. Such research should leverage experiences from these projects in diverse socio-economic contexts, identify their potentials and limitations from an integrated perspective, and share their successes and failures across the urban water sector.

Details

Authors
  • Sabine Hoffmann
  • Ulrike Feldmann
  • Peter M. Bach
  • Christian Binz
  • Megan Farrelly
  • Niki Frantzeskaki
  • Harald Hiessl
  • Jennifer Inauen
  • Tove A. Larsen
  • Judit Lienert
  • Jörg Londong
  • Christoph Lüthi
  • Max Maurer
  • Cynthia Mitchell
  • Eberhard Morgenroth
  • Kara L. Nelson
  • Lisa Scholten
  • Bernhard Truffer
  • Kai M. Udert
Organisations
External organisations
  • Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
  • ETH Zürich
  • Monash University
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research
  • University of Bern
  • Bauhaus University Of Weimar
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Utrecht University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Management
  • Human Geography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5312-5322
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume54
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 5
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes