A framework for assessing sustainability of urban water systems

Shiroma Maheepala, Andrew Speers, N Booker, V Grace Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


The concept of sustainability has emerged as the new paradigm for developing and managing urban water systems. One of the major challenges in implementing the principles of sustainability is determining how to measure the level of sustainability. The objective of this paper is to address that challenge and provide a mechanism by which the sustainability of urban water systems can be measured. In addition, the current understanding of sustainability as it applies to urban water systems is discussed and methods suggested in the literature for the assessment of sustainability is reviewed. Our study has found that multi-criteria assessment (MCA) is emerging as the most refined and favourable approach for the assessment of sustainability. Thus, a framework has been developed for the assessment of sustainability of urban water systems by using MCA. The proposed framework can bring together social, economic and environmental aspects of decision making into a single platform, and that platform can provide valuable insight into understanding the effectiveness of various management initiatives in terms of their ability to contribute to move towards to providing sustainable water systems in urban areas. The proposed framework is applicable to existing and alternative urban water systems and suitable as a tool for comparing the sustainability of a range of alternative options of urban water service provision.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th Int. Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium - About Water
EditorsM J Boyd
Place of PublicationBarton ACT Australia
PublisherEngineers Australia
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)0858240602
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventHydrology and Water Resources Symposium 2003 - Wollongong, Australia
Duration: 10 Nov 200313 Nov 2003
Conference number: 28th


ConferenceHydrology and Water Resources Symposium 2003
Abbreviated titleHWRS 2003

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