Water-sensitive cities


By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department

One of the relatively recent concepts in urban management and urban water resources management is the “water-sensitive city” concept which pays attention to an ecological-based strategy in management, social and infrastructure fields to achieve sustainability in urban development. This theme was first settled in the mid-1990s by a group of urban planners and designers in Western Australia, a new model for integrated urban water management with an approach focused on strategies for achieving a natural cycle in this area relying on drinking water, wastewater, runoff and rain water management.
Water is one of the most challenging issues for human societies, which has a direct impact on the country’s economic, social and political developments. This issues negative aspects are expanding due to reasons such as increasing population and, consequently, increasing demand for water access, reducing world water resources and increasing water pollution. On the other hand, urban development, without regard to the sustainability principles, has disturbed natural water cycles and made urban surfaces impervious to water. In addition, the escalation of climate change and global warming have caused the sustainable management of urban water resources to consider many massive and minor planning. In such a situation, water-sensitive cities as viable, flexible and productive cities in which the maintenance of the ecosystem is of paramount importance, in addition to creating water security for economic planning, result in the diverse use of water resources, conservation of rivers and wetlands, creating beautiful and eye-catching public spaces with the use of renewable resources and preventing damage caused by possible floods. Accordingly, the objectives of designing a water sensitive city include:
– Protecting rivers and wetlands in urban spaces
– Improving the quality of water flowing from urban environments to rivers and wetlands
– Balancing urban water resources with the most use of rainwater, recycled water and gray waters
– Protecting water resources through recycling water and increasing the efficiency of the water supply system in urban areas
– Integration of rainwater transmission systems with urban landscaping and the optimal use of this water source to maintain environmental values and the development of related recreational activities.
– Reducing runoffs resulting from urban development by reducing the amount of urban imperviousness
Designing the processes and types of technologies needed to design a water-sensitive city with regard to the geographical, climatic and even social conditions of each city, using capable water engineers, urban designers and environmental experts is feasible in the form of a system. In this route, various elements are used in the design of water-sensitive cities, which include: artificial lagoons, bioleaching runways, plant covered waterways, rain water supplies, permeable pavements, sand filtration and sedimentation basins, each of which have a particular place in the engineering structure of a water-sensitive city and causes a large part of the water resources, such as surface water, groundwater, runoff and urban wastewater to be used or reused.