The Future of Urban Water

A publication depicting four plausible scenarios for the future of urban water utilities in 2040. Using Sydney as a reference city, it explores how a wide range of social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends could shape our urban water future.

How can we meet the water needs of a rapidly growing urban population? Can we provide equitable water services in a world increasingly faced with water scarcity and environmental degradation? How can we achieve this without further compromising the planet’s ecosystem?

In times of increasing uncertainty – and with a future likely to be very different from the world we are experiencing today – scenarios help us understand possible pathways into the future and enable conversations about how we can influence and shape the direction we are travelling in.

Each scenario sees the industry move in a new direction with various opportunities for customers, infrastructure and governance. By understanding trends and planning for the future, water utilities can create more engaging customer experiences, enhance the quality of life in urban areas and get more out of their current and future assets.

The scenarios featured in this report can be used to explore the viability of different strategies, inspire innovation and assist in long-term planning for more sustainable and resilient urban water systems. While the scenarios are based on Sydney Water, their implications are relevant to a wide range of other utilities and organisations.

This report was developed in collaboration with Sydney Water and Arup’s Water Business.

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Arup Foresight

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Foresight is Arup’s internal think-tank and consultancy which deals with the future of the built environment and society at large. We serve Arup’s global business as well as external clients from a broad range of regions and sectors. Read more

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Natalia Ford
Sustainability Officer
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