Urban Water Systems Working Group


To address how to improve the capacity of urban water systems to keep up with rapid population growth in cities.


  1. Establish baseline protocols for water recycling plants to ensure standards of water quality are achieved so fresh water can be recovered from almost anywhere. 
  2. Develop a conceptual and empirical basis of urban water security to better understand urban water security challenges.
  3. Conduct a feasibility study, identify and to mobilise funds to implement and later to monitor a Water-Energy-Food Nexus pilot project at neighbourhood scale in Germany, India, Indonesia or Africa.



Sustainable development goal number six in the area of water and sanitation is a very large challenge that represents a broad range of complexities. The urban water cycle functions in totality with complex feedback mechanisms and interrelations in which the human system plays a prominent role.  Policy and decision making in silos should give way to a systems approach given the increased interdependence between surface and groundwater and drinking water and sanitation. A nexus approach to improve our understanding of the interactions of water and health, and between water flows, energy and nutrient in different water supply, wastewater and sewerage systems is also required. An approach that integrates drinking, domestic, industrial and other productive water needs at city scale with sanitation, sewerage and storm water drainage can ensure the effective use and management of urban water that serves everyone and thus counteracts socio-spatial differentiation. The working group will address how to enhance the capacity and capability of urban water systems in order to keep up with rapid population growth. The working group aims to develop an analytical framework that captures a differentiated understanding of the threats to urban water security that occur globally through a range of demonstration sites across different geographies, governance systems and states of development. A key activity of this working group is to establish the necessary base protocols for operating water recycle facilities (both passive and active engineered) to produce fit for purpose water from drinking water to a wide range of urban uses, opening up nearly all freshwater in the world, whether contaminated or otherwise, to be used safely in urban environments. This requires demonstration of very high credible removal of both pathogens and chemicals in the most rigorous exemplars, something that has restricted the systematic use of recycled water and as such, decreased urban productivity or in simple terms the multiple benefits of water in terms of health, food production, urban amenity and recreation.The working group will conduct a feasibility study to implement and later to monitor a Nexus pilot project at neighbourhood scale in an existing city in Germany, India, Indonesia or Africa.

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