Urban water metabolism information for planning water sensitive city-regions
Climate change and growing populations will stretch water resources in many city-regions globally, and urbanisation will continue to degrade water quality and upset natural hydrological flows. These pressures call for alternative urban water management approaches with improved connection with land use planning. Evaluating the water metabolism of urban areas gives a holistic picture of how water flows through and is transformed by urban settlements, to inform land use planning for sustainably managing urban water. Previous research has conceptualised how metabolism science may inform urban land use planning. In this work, we build on to identify how urban water metabolism evaluations can inform urban planning practice. We ask, ‘how can urban water metabolism evaluations support urban and water planning towards water sensitive city-regions?’ Focusing on three Australian capital city-regions, we empirically identify the knowledge needs of practitioners and compare this against the knowledge known to be generated from past urban water metabolism evaluations. This was done within a framework of urban water resource management objectives for water sensitive cities - that is, protection of water resources and hydrological flows, recognition of the diverse functions of water, and resource efficiency and supply internalisation. Based on the findings, the paper discusses five key strategic initiatives for planning for water sensitive city-regions: resource efficiency and hydrological performance benchmarks and targets for urban developments, tailoring programmes for resource efficiency, making case for regional blue-green space networks for improved hydrological performance, small and large-scale infrastructure innovation, and social and institutional innovation in urban water management.