[act-ma] Improving the security and sustainability of urban water supply systems

George Mokray gmoke at world.std.com
Mon Aug 4 08:51:19 PDT 2014

Improving the security and sustainability of urban water supply systems
Time: Wednesday, August 6, 2p
MIT, Building E40-298, 1 Amherst Street, Cambridge

Speaker: Dr. Meenakshi Arora (Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Australia)
Abstract: Global climate change, population growth, and changes to the built environment are the key defining challenges of this century affecting water quality and availability. These combined pressures are all leading to increased demand for water at the same time that environmental, social and economic impacts of current water systems are being increasingly scrutinised. Increasing competition for water in many regions of the world provides an impetus for integrated urban water management which implies using various water supply sources such as water reuse, wastewater recycling, rain water and storm water harvesting available at different spatial and temporal scales. The integrated urban water management offers multiple benefits in terms of reduced potable water demand, reduced runoff impact on the urban streams and reduced flooding. But it presents various challenges in terms of uncertainties regarding overall energy use of such systems, GHG emissions and interactions with existing infrastructure along with health risks, social and economic impacts in long term. The available water models use deterministic approach and predict spatially and temporally lumped water demands, which are appropriate to plan traditional centralised water systems. However, for decentralised systems, availability of various water sources such as rainwater, storm water and grey water varies significantly over small spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, for optimal use of the water available in decentralised systems, this variability needs to be considered in the model along with its implications on the energy use and impact on existing infrastructure. To better understand and prepare for future challenges, an integrated modelling capability is needed to predict, how long-term changes in water supply brought on by global climate change and urbanization, can impact the security and sustainability of urban water systems, including their capacity to adapt to these changes. 

In this seminar, Dr. Arora will present an integrated modeling platform that addresses the limitations identified above and focus on the challenges involved in modeling the urban water cycle for planning of urban systems including the interplay between spatial and temporal variability in water demand, energy intensities and GHG emissions associated with various water sources and interactions of such systems with existing infrastructure.

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