Framing Sustainable Urban Water Management: A Critical Analysis of Theory and Practice

Anna Hurlimann, Elizabeth Wilson, Svenja Keele

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Achieving ‘sustainable urban water management’ (SUWM) is a growing goal for many cities globally, particularly in the face of existing and emerging water threats. Water policy reveals particular ways of framing problems and possible actions. By understanding the components of sustainability, we analyse how key water policies for two major cities frame SUWM. London and Melbourne face significant future water threats, and have tried to address these through strategic water policy. However, they have different approaches to water policy, and different climatic and built-form contexts. Hence, we review the water policy context shaping London and Melbourne, and analyse to what extent their strategic water policy addresses SUWM. Our study shows that the water policy documents analysed do not define SUWM. Despite this, they addressed a number of components of sustainability, strongly focusing on economics and spatial planning, but there were notable gaps such as climate change, uncertainty and complexity. We draw upon the broader water policy context of each city to discuss these differences within the documents. Our results indicate that a broader and more holistic conceptualisation of sustainable urban water management would be beneficial in both policy contexts. Doing so will help achieve this important goal, particularly in light of current and future water threats, including climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Water Trajectories
EditorsSarah Bell, Adriana Allen, Pascale Hofmann, Tse-Hui Teh
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319426860
ISBN (Print)9783319426846, 9783319437910
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameFuture City
ISSN (Print)1876-0899
ISSN (Electronic)1876-0880

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