Water Resources Management

, Volume 24, Issue 11, pp 2795–2816 | Cite as

Distributed Water Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities



Distributed water infrastructure (located at the community or the household level) is relatively untried and unproven, compared with technologies for managing urban water at higher (e.g. regional) levels. This work presents a review of currently available options for distributed water infrastructure and illustrates the potential impact of their deployment through a number of indicative infrastructure strategies. The paper summarises the main categories of both centralised and decentralised water infrastructure, covering all three flows (water supply, wastewater and drainage) and their integration through recycling and reuse. The potential impact of the identified infrastructure options for urban water management is examined. The desirability of the strategies examined, is dependent on (case specific) constraints to urban development, including for example regional or local water resource availability, treatment plant capacity, cost of upgrading infrastructure, potential for (distributed) energy (micro) generation and climatic changes (and other non-stationary processes). The results are presented and discussed. It is concluded that there is currently a significant potential for a range of improvements in urban water management which could result from the context-aware deployment of a portfolio of technological infrastructure options. It is also suggested that there are trade-offs between water use, energy use and land use, and these have an equilibrium point that is associated with the technological state-of-art. At a given technological state-of-art, further reductions in water savings signify increase either energy consumption (for high-tech solutions) or land use (for low-tech solutions). The strategies’ evaluation indicates however, that until this equilibrium point is reached there can be significant gains in all three aspects. After this equilibrium, improvements in one aspect inevitably signify costs in others. The choice of desired trade-off then depends on the specific constraints of the problem at hand.


Decentralised Distributed water infrastructure Micro-generation Strategies Urban water 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alanne K, Saari A (2006) Distributed energy generation and sustainable development. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 10:539–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashok S (2007) Optimised model for community-based hybrid energy system. Renew Energy 32:1155–1164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balkema AJ (2003) Sustainable wastewater treatment: developing a methodology and selecting promising systems. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, EindhovenGoogle Scholar
  4. Berndtsson J (2006) Experiences from the implementation of a urine separation system: goals, planning, reality. Build Environ 41(4):427–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown RR, Farrelly MA (2009) Delivering sustainable urban water management: a review of the hurdles we face. Water Sci Technol 59(5):839–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butler D, Davies J (2000) Urban drainage. Spon, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler D, Makropoulos C (2006) Water related infrastructure for sustainable communities. Technological options and scenarios for infrastructure systems. Science Report SC05002501, Environment Agency, ISBN: 184432611X, 125 pp. Available at http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk
  8. Butler D, Kokkalidou A, Makropoulos C (2005) Supporting the siting of new urban developments using sustainability criteria. In: Hlavinek P, Kukharchyk T (eds) Integrated urban water resources management. Kluwer Academic, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  9. Cherni JA, Dyner I, Henao F, Jaramillo P, Smith R, Font RO (2007) Energy supply for sustainable rural livelihoods. A multi-criteria decision-support system. Energy Policy 35:1493–1504Google Scholar
  10. Chu J, Wang C, Chen J, Wang H (2009) Agent-based residentialwater use behavior simulation and policy implications: a case-study in Beijing City. Water Resour Manag 23(15):3267–3295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cowden JR, Watkins DW, Mihelcic JR (2008) Stochastic rainfall modeling in West Africa: parsimonious approaches for domestic rainwater harvesting assessment. J Hydrol 361(1–2):64–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davies JW, Le MS, Heath CR (1998) Intensified activated sludge process with submerged membrane microfiltration. Water Sci Technol 38(45):421–428Google Scholar
  13. Evan DGF, Dougill AJ, Mabee WE, Reed M, McAlpine P (2006) Bottom up and top down: analysis of participatory processes for sustainability indicator identification as a pathway to community empowerment and sustainable environmental management. J Environ Manag 78(2):114–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Folke C, Hahn T, Olsson P, Norberg J (2005) Adaptive governance of social–ecological systems. Annu Rev Environ Resour 30:441–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frazer-Williams R, Avery L, Winward G, Jeffrey P, Shirley-Smith C, Liu S, Memon F, Jefferson B (2008) Constructed wetlands for urban grey water recycling. Int J Environ Pollut 33(1):93–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Friedler E, Hadari M (2006) Economic feasibility of greywater reuse in multi-storey buildings. Desalination 190:221–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jaramillo OA, Borja MA, Huacuz JM (2004) Using hydropower to complement wind energy: a hybrid system to provide firm power. Renew Energy 29:1887–1909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Koutsoyiannis D, Makropoulos C, Langousis A, Baki S, Efstratiadis A, Christofides A, Karavokiros G, Mamassis N (2009) Climate, hydrology, energy, water: recognizing uncertainty and seeking sustainability. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 13:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Legget DJ, Brown R, Brewer D, Standfield G, Holliday E (2001) Rainwater and greywater use in buildings: best practice guidance. Report No. C539, CIRIA, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Makropoulos C, Butler D, Maksimovic C (1999) GIS supported evaluation of source control applicability in urban areas. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 39(9):243–252Google Scholar
  21. Makropoulos C, Natsis K, Liu S, Mittas K, Butler D (2008a) Decision support for sustainable option selection in integrated urban water management. Environ Model Softw 23(12):1448–1460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Makropoulos C, Memon FA, Shirley-Smith C, Butler D (2008b) Futures: an exploration of scenarios for sustainable urban water management. Water Policy 10(4):345–373Google Scholar
  23. Marks JS, Zadoroznyj M (2005) Managing sustainable urban water reuse: structural context and cultures of trust. Soc Nat Resour 18(6):557–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Memon FA, Zheng Z, Butler D, Shirley-Smith C, Liu S, Makropoulos C, Avery L (2007) Life cycle impact assessment of greywater treatment technologies for new developments. Environ Monit Assess 129:27–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mitchell VG, Mein RG, McMahon TA (2001) Modelling the urban water cycle. Environ Model Softw 16(7):615–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mitchell VG, Diaper C (2006) Simulating the urban water and contaminant cycle. Environ Model Softw 21(1):129–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ndoye B, Sarr M (2008) Analysis of domestic hot water energy consumption in large buildings under standard conditions in Senegal. Build Environ 43(7):1216–1224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Odhiambo J, Martinsson E, Soren S, Mboya P, Onyango J (2009) Integration water, energy and sanitation solution for stand-alone settlements. Desalination 248(1–3):570–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Otterpohl R, Braun U, Oldenburg M (2003) Innovative technologies for decentralised water-, wastewater and biowaste management in urban and peri-urban areas. Water Sci Technol 48(1112):23–32Google Scholar
  30. Pahl-Wostl C, Hare M (2004) Processes of social learning in integrated resources management. J Community Appl Soc Psychol 14(3):193–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Parkinson J, Schutze M, Butler D (2005) Modelling the impacts of domestic water conservation on the sustainability of the urban sewerage system. Water Environ J 19(1):49–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pearson L, Coggan A, Proctor W, Smith T (2010) A sustainable decision support framework for urban water management. Water Resour Manag 24(2):363–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rauch W, Seggelke K, Brown R, Krebs P (2005) Integrated approaches in urban storm drainage: where do we stand? Environ Manage 35(4):396–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sharma A, Grant A, Grant T, Pamminger F, Opray L (2009) Environmental and economic assessment of urban water services for a greenfield development. Environ Eng Sci 26(5):921–934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shorrock LD, Utley JL (2003a) Domestic energy fact file. BRE Housing Centre, WatfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Shorrock LD, Utley JL (2003b) Domestic energy fact file 2003. BRE Housing Centre, WatfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Styles M (2005) Sustainable communities: potential water savings through available technologies. Internal discussion paper, UK Environment AgencyGoogle Scholar
  38. Surendran S, Wheatley AD (1998) Grey-water reclamation for non-potable re-use. J Chart Inst Water Environ Manag 12(6):406–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tidwell V, Passell H, Conrad S, Thomas R (2004) System dynamics modelling for community-based water planning: application to the Middle Rio Grande. Aquat Sci 66:357–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. van Roon M (2007) Water localisation and reclamation: steps towards low impact urban design and development. J Environ Manag 83(4):437–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vieira F, Ramos H (2008) Hybrid solution and pump-storage optimization in water supply system efficiency: a case study. Energy Policy 36:4142–4148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilder M, Lankao PR (2006) Paradoxes of decentralization: water reform and social implications in Mexico. World Dev 34(11):1977–1995CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Woods BB, Kellagher R et al (2007) The SUDS manual (C697). CIRIA, London, pp 600, ISBN: 978-0-86017-697-8Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department ofWater Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Civil EngineeringNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Centre for Water Systems, School of Engineering, Computing and MathematicsUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

Personalised recommendations