As the crowds have grown, so has the need for clean water. Internationally, urban areas are rapidly increasing in size, population and space, and to ensure long-term access to clean water for these urban populations, cities need to prioritize management that incorporates environmental sustainability. In this study, led by Wu Yang, the authors propose ways that cities can mitigate these challenges.
Most of the population growth in the next few years is expected to occur in Asia and Africa, especially China and India. These megacities (cities with a population of more than 10 million) are known as water “hot spots”.
However, megacities are never isolated. “Urban areas increasingly interact with other areas through the flow of water, food, energy, people, information and capital,” the researchers wrote. These cities must rely on their neighbors for clean water, and as their As they grow, their influence will continue to extend beyond city boundaries.
The study’s authors argue, therefore, that the analysis of water use and management should become more interdisciplinary. Socioeconomic and environmental factors need to be a primary consideration in future management plans.
To address these questions, the team developed a framework that incorporates what they see as the necessary perspectives for water analysis in and around the city.
“Water use increases as the number of households and population size increases, and it is often non-linear. Economic development, including industry, also requires water, and changes in land use and land cover in turn alter water availability. and use. Agricultural areas surround urban areas, and some crops require irrigation water. The environment also needs water to maintain ecosystem processes and functions.”
Their telecoupling model, which describes “socioeconomic and environmental interactions between distantly coupled human and natural systems,” encompasses all of these fields.
Using Beijing as an example, they highlighted how the city’s need for water has depleted resources beyond its borders, with many nearby rivers barely flowing. From a socioeconomic perspective, people are forced to leave their homes in the peri-urban areas as demand for water skyrockets and water delivery infrastructure is built.
But significant action has been taken and improvements have been made. The construction of infrastructure will create more jobs for people outside the cities, and the authors call Beijing a “pioneer” in setting strict guidelines to reduce water use.
More needs to be done to ensure water sustainability in cities like Beijing and Los Angeles that depend on distant water sources. This model can articulate challenges, but policies are needed to implement them. The authors conclude, “Water demand management must also recognize the social and equity aspects of water pricing and policy.”
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