Water Use and Water Management
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Cities are often perceived as stand-alone entities, artificially constructed, and reflecting humankind’s ability to modify the environment to suit our needs. Perhaps for this reason, urban planning has historically tended to address housing, transport, economic development and cultural issues as key concerns, rather than focusing on biogeochemical processes. Water has typically been regarded as just another resource required to meet diverse human needs (e.g. health, industry, transport and civic beautification). Over the past fifty years though, there has been a growing realisation among some planners that urban water – whether it be a potable water supply, wastewater, stormwater, groundwater or surface water (i.e. streams, lakes and rivers) – is a fundamental element of built environments, and has to be managed accordingly. Indeed, cities are now increasingly regarded as components of wider biogeochemical systems, and urban water is seen as part of a much broader water cycle (see Figure 7.1). In this context, what happens upstream and downstream of cities is a core planning concern; so too are water catchment processes. Environmental planners now know that water must be planned and managed in an ecologically sustainable way (see chapter 6), where built environments are treated as part of the environment – not separate from it. This has implications for human settlements.