Sustainable Urban Water Cycle

ARC is in the process of developing research lines on strategic topics in order to utilize synergies within the ARC membership and with partnering universities. Also these research lines should assist in making connections with utilities and other stakeholders. One of the first research lines to be developed is Sustainable Urban Water Cycle.

Project Sustainable Urban Water Cycle

The scope of the ARC project Sustainable Urban Water Cycle is to develop and harmonize approaches to assess the sustainability of the urban water cycle and – based on these assessments- to develop long-term plans for the urban water cycle in each of the participating cities. The kick-off workshop will be held in autumn 2011. KWR is taking the lead in this project.


By 2030, 82% of the people in developed countries will live in cities and competing demands for scarce water resources may lead to an estimated 40% supply shortage. Cities have a key role to ensure the protection and restoration of ecosystems that they heavily depend on. Cities have an outsize effect on water supplies, forcing cities to reduce water consumption, recycle wastewater, restore adjacent watersheds and improve engineering solutions for water supplies. Whilst the perceived challenges for urban water cycles are largely common, current circumstances vary widely across the continent. An approach that is sensitive to contextual diversity is thus required. This calls for smart links between theory and practice.
The changing context of the water utility sector requires flexibility. But if frequent adaptation is costly, as with investments in infrastructure, robust solutions are required. Preparedness can play an important role in efficiently solving impeding problems and exploiting emerging opportunities optimally.

Several city utilities across Europe started to develop and implement adaptive and flexible solutions among which Amsterdam, Hamburg, Barcelona, Lisbon and Oslo/Bergen.

This project aims to support these utilities in the water cycle transitions by:

  • Providing tools to assess the sustainability of the urban water cycle and scenario planning, to deal with complex planning problems in a strategically intelligent fashion;
  • Providing results from the latest forecasts and scientific projections on the European and national scale to feed the decisions with facts and statistical (un)certainties;
  • Providing innovative solutions and best practices from European and national research programs;
  • Creating a platform to augment knowledge and exchange new insights.