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Aeesp Lecture: Evolving Urban Water and Residuals Management Paradigms: Water Reclamation and Reuse, Decentralization, Resource Recovery

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Population growth and improving standards of living, coupled with dramatically increased urbanization, are placing increased pressures on available water resources, necessitating new approaches to urban water management. The tradition linear “take, make, waste” approach to managing water is increasingly proving to be unsustainable as it is leading to water stress (insufficient water supplies), unsustainable resource (energy and chemicals) consumption, the dispersion of nutrients into the aquatic environment (especially phosphorus), and financially unstable utilities. Different approaches are needed to achieve economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Fortunately a toolkit consisting of stormwater management/rainwater harvesting, water conservation, water reclamation and reuse, energy management, nutrient recovery, and source separation is available to allow more closed loop urban water and resource management systems to be developed and implemented. Water conservations along with water reclamation and reuse (multiple uses) are becoming commonplace in numerous water-short locations. Decentralization, enabled by new, high performance treatment technologies and distributed stormwater management/rainwater harvesting, is furthering this transition. Likewise, traditional approaches to residuals management are evolving as higher levels of energy recovery are desired and nutrient recovery and reuse is to be enhanced. A variety of factors affect selection of the optimum approach for a particular urban area, including local hydrology, available water supplies, water demands, local energy and nutrient management situations, existing infrastructure, and utility governance structure. A proper approach to economic analysis is critical to determine the most sustainable solutions. Stove piping within the urban water and resource management profession must be eliminated. Adoption of these new approaches to urban water and resource management can lead to more sustainable solutions, defined as financially stable, using locally sustainable water supplies, energy neutral, providing responsible nutrient management, and with access to clean water and appropriate sanitation for all.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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