Water Sensitive Urban Design Slakes Thirst for Sustainability

The world's increasing water crises demand a new approach to managing the urban water cycle. Water sensitive urban design seeks to integrate water into urban environments, rather than isolating it, to create more livable cities.

Sue Illman, president of the Landscape Institute, looks at the importation of the principles of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) to the UK from Australia, where the strategy has been developed in response to the continent's recent history of flooding and record droughts.

"A new report, Water Sensitive Urban Design in the UK [PDF], published by the CIRIA in March, reinterprets the WSUD concept for the UK and its conclusions might best be summed up simply as: for too long, we have been designing water out of our cities when we should have been designing it in. The introduction to the report sets out the challenge we face: 'Water shortages, flooding and watercourse pollution are all signs of stress where developed areas have a troubled interaction with the natural water cycle and where, conversely, water has become a risk or a nuisance rather than an asset or an opportunity.'"

"A survey of built environment professionals conducted as part of the report showed that 83% of respondents believe water management is considered too late in the planning and design process of developments. We have to start prioritising all elements of the water cycle when designing and developing new places," urges Illman. "And a fundamental part of a water sensitive city is that we integrate the design of those features into the fabric of our towns and cities as attractive livable landscapes."

Full Story: Water sensitive design: integrating water with urban planning

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