Water sensitive cities
Water sensitive urban design at the Southport Broadwater Parklands, Australia. ©AECOM photo by David Lloyd.
Professor Tony Wong’s TED X presentation at Canberra, Australia in April, “Envisioning a Water Sensitive Future for our Cities and Towns,” describes approaches for integrating the built and natural environment by focusing on water. By incorporating natural hydrologic processes as a design template for city infrastructure he argues that we can create more resilient, restorative, and productive cities.
Tony highlights common urban inefficiencies such as the amount of rainwater that lands on cities and is quickly channeled out through gray infrastructure in patterns that damage surrounding watersheds, despite the fact that these cities are also struggling with water supply shortages. Wasted water is another major challenge and opportunity. Using waste water to irrigate city landscapes, support urban agriculture, and even cool cities from climate change are some other exciting opportunities that many cities are beginning to explore not only in Australia but around the world.
Isaac Brown was formerly an urban designer and ecologist with AECOM’s Design + Planning practice in Orange, California. This information was updated Nov. 5, 2013.