Water & Waste


In the United States, centralized water and wastewater systems are aging, energy-intensive, and fail to remove nutrients as well as emerging pollutants that compromise ecosystem health and limit the ability for downstream water reuse for drinking or irrigation.

To address scarcity, water and wastewater utilities are engaging in water conservation campaigns and tailoring wastewater treatment to suit multiple uses, e.g., providing reclaimed (non-potable) water for electric utilities & golf courses, resulting in distributed system design. In this way, water, wastewater, energy & agriculture sectors are increasingly intertwined. This requires developing a full understanding of linkages across households, utilities, and their larger watershed. It similarly requires a (re)assessment of the institutions that govern such linkages.

In developing world cities, where water & wastewater infrastructure is often severely lacking, distributed systems are necessarily the first step, with separation of grey and black water occurring in many neighborhoods. New low cost distributed treatment technologies capable of resource recovery and of being tailored to various treatment standards (depending on the intended end use of the treated water) are needed in both the United States and India. Integrating emerging technologies with behavioral change among water users, as well as cross-water-system linkages both physical and institutional, is essential to the sustainability and resilience of existing and emerging water and wastewater treatment systems.


Science-Policy Dialogue Report No. 1- Distributed and Localized Infrastructure in Cities

  • September 2018
  • Report
  • Author: Multiple

The localization and decentralization of key infrastructure systems has emerged as a potential strategy for helping cities achieve multiple sustainability outcomes spanning environment, economy, health, wellbeing, and equity. Examples of … Read more

Resource Requirements of Inclusive Urban Development in India

  • September 2018
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Ajay Nagpure and Anu Ramaswami

What are the energy and resource requirements of equitable and inclusive urban development? Understanding the resource requirements of developing more inclusive cities in India is the focus of this paper. … Read more

Urban Tree Pit Design Factors for Stormwater Management Performance

  • July 2018
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Multiple

Street trees in the urban environment provide important ecosystem services including stormwater management, reducing pollutant discharges and flooding by lessening surface runoff. Does the design of an urban tree pit … Read more

Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Transitions in the ASEAN Region: A Resource Perspective (UN Environment and Sustainable Healthy Cities collaboration)

  • February 2018
  • Report
  • Author: Multiple

The ASEAN nations are a hot spot for rapid urbanization over the next 30 years: Between 2015 and 2050, ASEAN cities are projected to add 205 million new urban residents … Read more

Considerations for Reducing Food System Energy Demand while Scaling Up Urban Agriculture

  • December 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Mohareb, E., Heller, M., Novak, P., Goldstein, B., Fonoll, X., & L. Raskin. (2017). “Considerations for Reducing Food System Energy Demand while Scaling Up Urban Agriculture.” Environmental Research Letters, 12(12).  ABSTRACT: There … Read more

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