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Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD)

Water is an important resource that needs to be managed efficiently in order to encourage community development. Water supports life and the existence of the different living organs in the planet. In its absence, the world is likely to suffer from severe food shortages (Coutts, Tapper, Beringer, Loughnan, and Demuzere, 2013, pg. 5). There are different natural activities, human activities affecting, and change the quality of water. It is also essential to point out that water quality changes with the location because of the different factors including seasonal changes, climatic conditions, surfaces, rocks, and soils among other factors that affect the natural quality of water (Sharma, et al., 2016, pg. 344). In addition, human activities such as agricultural activities, urban development, industrial development, mining, and recreation alter the quality of natural water. Water quality management is therefore essential to maintaining the fitness for the use of water resources and ensuring that there is a balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection (Brown, Keath, and Wong, 2009, pg. 847).

The Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) uses and integrates the urban water cycle and managing water supply as part of minimizing environmental degradation (Di Giacomo, 2014, pg. 267). WSUD is also an important process that plays a critical role in improving the aesthetic and recreational appeal. Urban centers are usually the most affected with issues such as storms, groundwater, and wastewater. There is a need for WSUD to be implemented as part of the process of managing such ordeals and ensure that an appropriate water management system is implemented in order to minimize the degradations associated with such water issues (Coutts, Tapper, Beringer, Loughnan, and Demuzere, 2013, pg. 9).

One of the main objectives of the Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is to reduce the potable water demand by influencing the demand and supply of water management. Water is an important resource and has high demand. In most cases, the demand is higher than the supply. The WSUD, therefore, performs the role of finding equilibrium between the demand and supply of water. The WSUD treats storm water with the intention of meeting the water quality objectives for reusing and capturing pollution. This is done through a slow release of the storm water in order to make the water fit for human use (Sharma, et al., 2016, pg. 272).

WSUD promotes water-related-self-sufficiency within the urban setting. This is done through by optimizing the use of water sources for the purpose of minimizing portable storm and controlling the inflow and outflow of wastewater. This is also an interesting process used in encourage water storage (Di Giacomo, 2014, pg. 267). WSUD aims at ensuring that there is minimum wastewater generation by providing appropriate systems and procedures of treating wastewater and making the water fit for agricultural and human use. Further, WSUD is instrumental in countering urban heat island effect by ensuring that water is used in vegetation. Further, WSUD helps in replenishing the groundwater (MCIWEM, MCIWEM, Celeste Morgan, and BE, 2013, pg. 65).

The main objective of the WSUD is to minimize hydrological impacts of urban development on the environment (Morison and Brown, 2011, pg. 87). These technologies focus on the need to protect the environment through water management and ensuring that the communities have access to quality water for consumption. The technologies are also employed for protecting the aquatic ecosystem among other living things. Some of the main technologies employed under WSUD include the infiltration systems, bio-retention systems, vegetated and bio-filtration swales, permeable and porous pavements, constructed wetlands, green roofs, and rainwater tanks. This section discusses a few of the WSUD technologies (Wong and Brown, 2009, pg. 279).

Objectives Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) technologies

Bio-retention Systems

This technology involves treatment of water by vegetation where the sediments and other solids are filtered through a prescribed media. The vegetation is instrumental in encouraging the biological uptake of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other soluble contaminants. They are instrumental in treating runoff before the water reaches the street drains (MCIWEM, MCIWEM, Celeste Morgan, and BE, 2013, pg. 65).

Infiltration Systems

These are structures filled with permeable materials including gravel and rock. The materials are then placed underground in such a way that they can create an underground reservoir. The main role of this system is to hold storm water and gradually releasing the water to the surrounding soil and the ground water systems. The systems can also be constructed in such a way that they can also provide water treatment by retaining the pollutants and the sediments (MCIWEM, MCIWEM, Celeste Morgan, and BE, 2013, pg. 65).

Porous Pavements

This technology is an excellent alternative to the conventional impermeable pavement. It is effective in filtering runoff water to the water storage reservoir or the soil (Sharma, Cook, Tjandraatmadja, and Gregory, 2012, pg. 349). This technology is also useful in flat areas because it reduces the volume and velocity of the stormwater. It also improves the quality of the water by removing the contaminant and providing biological treatment to the water (Laurenson, Laurenson, Bolan, Beecham, and Clark, 2013, pg. 27).

As part of the sustain development goal, every country invests in practices that will allow the economy to have an efficient system for conserving water and controlling storm water. Storms occur in almost every country in the world. However, the most important thing includes the systems put in place in ensuring that the storm water is contained and directed to a storage reservoir or the soil. The WSUD technologies give answers to the questions of water conservation and treatment (Sharma, Cook, Tjandraatmadja, and Gregory, 2012, pg. 344).

Before the world knew about porous pavements and other WSUD technologies, the conventional pavement was used in controlling storm water. However, these methods were not effective in collecting and treatment of the storm water (Wong and Brown, 2009, pg. 674). There was, therefore, need to introduce a system with the ability to perform the role of collecting and treating the water to remove the contaminants (Urrutiaguer, Lloyd, and Lamshed, 2010, pg. 2339). Porous paving allows the infiltration of the runoff water dedicating the water to some of the storage reservoirs. This technology is instrumental in controlling the damage that would have been caused by the storm (Davies, Wright, Jonasson, and Findlay, 2010, pg. 234). It also performs the role of protecting flat areas such as driveways and car parks from being destroyed by storm water (Di Giacomo, 2014, pg. 267). This is done by decreasing the volume and velocity of the stormwater runoff. When the speed of the runoff water is contained the possible impacts that the water would have had on the flat areas is contained as shown below (Simon Beecham Ph.D., 2012, pg. 285).

Porous paving is also effective in improving the quality of the water in such a way that the water can be reused (Urrutiaguer, Lloyd, and Lamshed, 2010, pg. 2341). This is done by removing the contaminants and sediments through filtration and making the water free from all the particles and chemicals that contaminate water. The contaminants are also removed through interception and employment of biological treatment options (Sharma, et al., 2016, pg. 272). The system is also important in controlling soil erosion during a storm. This is because the porous pavements are laid on porous materials such as gravel or sand and therefore have the ability to holding anything runoff by the storm water (Lerer, Arnbjerg-Nielsen, and Mikkelsen, 2015, pg. 1001). In addition, the maintenance of this technology is relatively cheap because you only need to have one person inspecting and removing the sediments and debris that were carried by the runoff (Brown, Keath, and Wong, 2009, pg. 849). This technology can be employed in any area because it is not disastrous and encourages the communities to consider reusing water by taking advantage of the storm water and treating it in order to make it fit for use (Peng, W.A.N.G. and Gill Lawson, 2010, pg. 37).

WSUD Technologies

The technology is also important in protecting and improving the quality of water in the urban areas. This is because it controls the possibility of stormwater mixing and contaminating the clean water (Donofrio, Kuhn, McWalter, and Winsor, 2009, pg. 181). In addition, the technology plays a critical role in restoring the urban water balance through maximization of recycling and reuse of storm water. This is useful in encouraging the conservation of water resources and reducing peak flows and runoff in the urban environment. The porous paving technology is cheaper and easy to implement which explains why it is applied in most of the regions (Morison and Brown, 2011, pg. 83).   


Polluted water has adverse effects on human health, aquatic ecosystem, agriculture, and other sectors of the economy. In addition, when the situation deteriorates, an economy is forced to incur extra costs of treating water in order to make it fit for consumption and use (Salinas, et al., 2014, pg. 185). If this is not done, the economy experiences a significant decrease in agricultural yields because the water experiences increased salinity and therefore cannot be used for irrigation. Water quality management is essential in dealing with the problem of eutrophication (Brown, 2012, pg. 33). Without proper water quality management initiatives water becomes undesirable with odors and therefore cannot be used unless treated with chlorine (Goonetilleke, Egodawatta, and Liu, 2011, pg. 41). In addition, water quality management plays a critical role in containing the spread of water diseases such as cholera and typhoid (Razzaghmanesh, Beecham, and Kazemi, 2012, pg. 499). Every government has a responsibility to ensure that citizens have access to clean water fit for human consumption. The government also needs to invest in water quality management in order to preserve the aquatic ecosystem and encourage agricultural development, which increases food security in a country (Beecham, Lucke, and Myers, 2010, pg. 11).

Reference List

Beecham, S.C., Lucke, T. and Myers, B., 2010. Designing porous and permeable pavements for stormwater harvesting and reuse (Doctoral dissertation, International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research).

Brown, R., 2012. Transitioning to the water sensitive city: the socio-technical challenge (pp. 29-42). IWA Publishing: London, UK.

Brown, R.R., Keath, N., and Wong, T.H.F., 2009. Urban water management in cities: historical, current and future regimes. Water science and technology, 59(5), pp.847-855.

Coutts, A.M., Tapper, N.J., Beringer, J., Loughnan, M. and Demuzere, M., 2013. Watering our cities: the capacity for water sensitive urban design to support urban cooling and improve human thermal comfort in the Australian context. Progress in Physical Geography, 37(1), pp.2-28.

Davies, P.J., Wright, I.A., Jonasson, O.J. and Findlay, S.J., 2010. The impact of concrete and PVC pipes on urban water chemistry. Urban Water Journal, 7(4), pp.233-241.

Di Giacomo, F.P., 2014. Water Sensitive Urban Design, WSUD. Lakes: the mirrors of the earth, p.267.

Donofrio, J., Kuhn, Y., McWalter, K. and Winsor, M., 2009. Water-sensitive urban design: An emerging model in sustainable design and comprehensive water-cycle management. Environmental Practice, 11(3), pp.179-189.

Goonetilleke, A., Egodawatta, P. and Liu, A., 2011. Enhancing Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) practices to mitigate urban stormwater pollution and reuse potential. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Sustainable Water Resource Management and Treatment Technologies. National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, India.

Laurenson, G., Laurenson, S., Bolan, N., Beecham, S. and Clark, I., 2013. The role of Bioretention Systems in the Treatment of Stormwater. Advances in Agronomy.

Lerer, S.M., Arnbjerg-Nielsen, K. and Mikkelsen, P.S., 2015. A mapping of tools for informing water sensitive urban design planning decisions—questions, aspects and context sensitivity. Water, 7(3), pp.993-1012.

MCIWEM, C., MCIWEM, C., Celeste Morgan, B.A. and BE, L., 2013. Water-sensitive urban design: opportunities for the UK. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 166(2), p.65.

Morison, P.J. and Brown, R.R., 2011. Understanding the nature of publics and local policy commitment to Water Sensitive Urban Design. Landscape and urban planning, 99(2), pp.83-92.

Peng, W.A.N.G. and Gill Lawson, L.I.U., 2010. Water Sensitive Urban Design and Its Applications in Landscape Projects. Chinese Landscape Architecture, 6, p.037.

Razzaghmanesh, M., Beecham, S. and Kazemi, F., 2012. The role of green roofs in water sensitive urban design in South Australia. In WSUD 2012: Water sensitive urban design; Building the water sensitive community; 7th international conference on water sensitive urban design (p. 499). Engineers Australia.

Salinas-Rodriguez, C.N., Ashley, R., Gersonius, B., Rijke, J., Pathirana, A. and Zevenbergen, C., 2014. Incorporation and application of resilience in the context of water?sensitive urban design: linking European and Australian perspectives. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 1(2), pp.173-186.

Sharma, A.K., Cook, S., Tjandraatmadja, G. and Gregory, A., 2012. Impediments and constraints in the uptake of water sensitive urban design measures in greenfield and infill developments. Water Science and Technology, 65(2), pp.340-352.

Sharma, A.K., Pezzaniti, D., Myers, B., Cook, S., Tjandraatmadja, G., Chacko, P., Chavoshi, S., Kemp, D., Leonard, R., Koth, B. and Walton, A., 2016. Water Sensitive Urban Design: An Investigation of Current Systems, Implementation Drivers, Community Perceptions and Potential to Supplement Urban Water Services. Water, 8(7), p.272.

Simon Beecham Ph.D., C., 2012. Effects of changing rainfall patterns on WSUD in Australia. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 165(5), p.285.

Urrutiaguer, M., Lloyd, S. and Lamshed, S., 2010. Determining to water sensitive urban design project benefits using a multi-criteria assessment tool. Water Science and Technology, 61(9), pp.2333-2341.

Wong, T.H.F. and Brown, R.R., 2009. The water sensitive city: principles for practice. Water Science and Technology, 60(3), pp.673-682.

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