New urban network and research hub unveiled

In addition to the regional hubs, the network will also establish an online Global Urban Water Hub © Dave Millet

A consortium of 14 academic institutions and key partners across the US aims to address the challenges that threaten urban water systems by forming the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN).
“The current fragmented approach to managing urban water is not sustainable. Water is one resource and must be managed based on the whole water cycle,” Mazdak Arabi, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University, who will serve as Director of UWIN, told The Source. “Our vision is to create an enduring research network for integrated water systems, and champions of innovation for water-sensitive urban design and resilient cities.”
The network will aim to create long-lasting products that will change the way water is managed and incorporated in urban planning, including a suite of sustainable urban water solutions; a blueprint for action; stronger community capacity to adapt; an online Global Urban Water Hub; and six regional urban water sustainability hubs.
The six hubs, all in the US, will include regions with varying eco-hydrologic and climatic regimes ranging from the coastal moist mid-latitude climates of the mid-Atlantic to the subtropical semi-arid deserts of the southwest. The regions also represent a wide spectrum of demographic, cultural, and policy settings.
According to Arabi, such diversity will enable cross-site assessments that will facilitate the exploration of appropriate sustainable technological, socio-political, and management solutions across regions undergoing various development trajectories.
In addition to the regional hubs, the network will also establish an online Global Urban Water Hub that will provide the opportunity to engage the global water community. The network welcomes partnerships with stakeholder groups, non-profit organisations, businesses, and research institutions to establish hubs in other regions across the US and throughout the world.
The UWIN has already established partnerships with the National League of Cities and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network to link the network research, educational, and engagement activities with policymakers and city leaders across the US.
“Water as a service connects many other social and environmental issues in cities,” added Arabi. “Integration is not just across water sectors but should be pursued in terms of the Triple Bottom Line and co-benefits that water provides to other urban systems. The challenge certainly requires technological and infrastructure advancements, but also necessitates institutional and management solutions that foster integration.”