Sustainable Urban Ecosystems: Problems and Perspectives

Part of the Water Science and Technology Library book series (WSTL, volume 84)


In urban ecosystems, the main problems are drinking water supply, energy supply, drainage, waste disposal, land use change, pollution, mitigation of natural disasters, and protecting the integrity of ecosystems. These problems are being compounded by population explosion including migration, sociocultural upheaval, and climate change. In order to discuss these problems from a hydrologic perspective, this paper first revisits ecology, ecosystems, ecosphere, and biosphere. It then looks at ecosystems in the hierarchy of biological organization. This then leads to stating the sciences that are allied with ecology and ecosystems. The next question that needs to be addressed is the one of sustainability. Defining sustainability is, some aspects of sustainable development and sustainability imperatives are enumerated. With this background in hand, urban ecosystems and their components are formulated. This leads to stating the main urban hydrology problems and challenges. These problems and challenges are being complicated by growing global population, particularly urban population and especially in India and its cities. Emphasizing water as the source of life, food, fiber, and energy, the question of meeting the challenges of water security, energy security, and food supply arises. To that end, water use, including individual, virtual water use, water withdrawals, and water use in different sectors, is discussed. The use of water in energy production is then highlighted. There is a dualism of energy use in India, and this gives rise to India’s energy challenge. Without sustainable energy supply in the long term, development will be impeded, for this is one of the sustainability imperatives. The problem of drinking water which is still plaguing cities in India is then examined. Like energy, it is related to human health and development. These challenges must be met with an integrated approach to water management under the specter of looming climate change. The discussion is concluded with a personal perspective on water, food, and energy security and on development itself.


Ecology Ecosystem Ecosphere Biosphere Urban hydrology Water–energy–food nexus Development Sustainability 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Zachry Department of Civil EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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