How Scale Influences the Resilience of Urban Water Systems: A Literature Review of Trade-Offs and Recommendations

Climate change severely affects urban water systems (UWSs). Infrastructure historically designed for milder conditions cannot manage growing water demands and extreme events. To obtain a resilient water sector, adaptation and mitigation strategies must address rising water challenges while striving for net-zero emissions. Researchers have noted that extreme decentralization is positively associated with closing cycles while reducing transport costs. However, part of the scientific community defends centralized schemes due to economies of scale. The objective of this systematic review is to understand the trade-offs associated with the adoption of different scales at UWSs design and how this impacts system resilience. This process includes identifying different scale trade-offs and unique environmental aspects that influence the optimal scale suitability. A clear distinction was made in terms of scale concept and classification, considering different design levels. That is, considering the UWS at the city level and water management units (WMUs) at the local level. Similarly, a classification of different scales for each level, covering all water streams—supply, wastewater, and stormwater—was introduced. We defined the key environmental aspects that influence the optimal scale and location suitability: ten at the city-catchment level and eleven at the site-neighbourhood level. Scale impacts three major UWSs functionalities that have repercussions on urban resilience: net energy, net water, and ecosystem services (ES) ​
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons:Attribution (by) Creative Commons by4.0