USP 514 Session 9 Notes

October 12th and 14th
Session Nine: Sustainable Urban Water Management
This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices that can promote sustainable water management and use.



  1. Write down all the ways in which you used water on the day you did this assignment. Remember to include all of the activities you engaged in, the food you ate, the infrastructures and technologies you relied on. Be prepared to discuss your list in class.
    • Drinking
    • Food
      • Production
      • Distribution
      • Manufacturing
      • Distribution
    • Shower
    • Toilet
  2. Watch the Video: The Future of Water: Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy at TEDxUSF
    • Dr Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy
    • Sri Lanka Tsunami 2004
    • Hometown badly affected
    • Went back to help them recover; specializing in water and sanitation services
    • Inspired by cultural and spiritual connection with water
      • From Sri Lanka where water is sacred and loved
      • Water service is unreliable
      • People must collect as much water as possible whenever it comes
    • Principled approach to doing more with less as a matter of survival
      • Water reuse: Drinking/Vegetable washing -> clothes -> washing floor -> watering plants
    • Custodial relationship with water
    • Toilets can use water from hand washing to flush
    • Class Takeaway Principles
      1. Doing more with less, every drop is valuable, no water is wasted, all water is reused
      2. Use water as many times as possible
      3. All water is good water, match quality of water with its intent and purpose


Discussion Questions

  1. What are basic characteristics of water as it relates to urban water management issues?
    • Inequitably distributed around the planet
    • Fresh or salinated
    • Fresh water is located
      • On the surface
      • Under the earth in aquifers
    • Once fresh water is salinated, it is no longer fresh
    • Water travels with gravity
    • Water can evaporate
    • Water can evaporate and then precipitate
    • Locations of water
      • 97% is salinated
      • 2% is locked in ice
      • 1% is available as fresh water
    • Water absorbs materials including toxins
  2. What are the impacts of urbanization and industrialization on natural waterways? For example, the cutting down of forests for logging, industrial agriculture, livestock industries, development of urban sewage systems, etc. 
    • Sewage runoff pollutes water
    • Pesticide use contaminates aquifers
    • Changes the flow of water or blocks the flow of water
      • Makes the water inaccessible
        • LA river is concreted
      • Over drilling of wells to
      • Pumped storage causes earthquakes
    • Changing water sources has a negative long-term impact on floodplains, agricultural land, flora, and fauna
    • Creates dead zones
    • Salinate fresh water
    • Increase the price of water
    • Fracking causes earthquakes
    • Sinkholes are created when aquifers are drained
      • I did not know that once aquifers are depleted by hydraulic pumping, they collapse and then they are not able to be filled again. The water capacity of the aquifer drops by half or more.
    • Deprive populations of their access to water
    • We fight wars about water
      • Turkey vs Greece
      • Israel vs Palestine
      • US vs Mexico
  3. How can we increase efficiency and conservation of water?
  4. What alternative water management systems and technologies are available to deal with commercial water use and sewage?
    • Treatment plants
    • Closed loops
  5. What can we learn from existing examples (case studies) of sustainable water management?
  6. What would a sustainable water management strategy look like?
    • We have to stop industrial agrculture
  7. How can water professionals promote sustainable water management and use?



    1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter One
    2. The Human Right to Water, at Last 
      • One of these global failures was the failure to acknowledge a formal human right to water.
        • There is a formal international human right to life, to human health, to an adequate standard of living, to adequate food, and more. But until a few weeks ago, there was no formal human right to water.
      • On September 24th, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a binding resolution that, “Affirms that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity”
      • Here are four reasons why it is a good idea:
        1. Acknowledging such a right will encourage the international community and individual governments to renew their efforts to meet basic human needs for water for their populations.
        2. By acknowledging such a right, pressures to translate that right into specific national and international legal obligations and responsibilities are much more likely to occur.
        3. This clear declaration will help maintain a spotlight of attention on the deplorable state of water management in many parts of the world.
        4. Finally, explicitly acknowledging a human right to water can help set specific priorities for water policy, which is often fragmented, uncoordinated, and focused on providing more water for some people, rather than some water for all people.
      • What is needed now is to develop appropriate tools and mechanisms to achieve progressively the full realization of these rights, including appropriate legislation, comprehensive plans and strategies for the water sector, and financial approaches.
      • I do not think that finally meeting basic needs for water and sanitation will occur just because there is finally a clear acceptance of a legal human right to water and rules for what governments must do to progressively realize those rights.
    3. Water Privatization: The case against
      • Everyone should have access to water. South Africa’s Bill of Rights states that every citizen has a right to water.
      • Privatisation poses a threat to that commitment because once privatised, water will no longer be provided on the basis of need but on the ability to pay
      • Many poor people in South Africa simply cannot afford to pay for water.
      • Privatised water means less democratic control. Privatisation removes water from public control thus robbing citizens of their democratic say over how this important resource is used.
      • Job losses and attacks on worker rights also accompany privatization.
      • Private companies will not take over water systems serving poorer communities living far from city centers and water pipes.
      • They always choose the most profitable and thus pick the juiciest cherry leaving the local public authorities to carry the burden of the poor while they laugh all the way to the bank.


    Case Studies

    1. A Path to Zero Waste in San Francisco, United States 141
      • prohibited the use of styrofoam and polystyrene foam in food service (2006)
      • required mandatory recycling for construction debris (2007),
      • banned plastic bags in drugstores and supermarkets (2009),
      • implemented mandatory recycling and composting for both residents and businesses (2009).
      • banned the sale of plastic water bottles in 2014
      • introduced the first and largest urban food waste composting collection program in the United States, covering both the commercial and residential sectors
      • achieved nearly 80 percent waste diversion in 2012—the highest rate of any major city in the United States
    2. Achieving Financial Sustainability in Argentina and Colombia 143
      • Argentina
        • quantified the total cost of its waste system to improve long-term sustainability
        • Under the World Bank–financed Integrated Solid Waste Management Project, the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development (SAyDS)1 developed a tool known as the Integrated Urban Solid Waste Management Economic and Financial Matrix
          • This tool helps municipalities understand the real costs of services and value of investments
          • analyzes each stage of the solid waste management value chain, identifies the proportion of costs recovered by fees, and identifies ways to reallocate budget resources to improve financial sustainability
      • Columbia
        • established a national methodology for determining the maximum service fee that local service providers can charge to users
        • developed a formula that accounts for all costs in every step of the solid waste management system, including urban cleaning and sweeping, collection and transfer, final disposal, leachate management, and recycling
        • Colombia’s success in cost recovery through accounting, legal infrastructure, and institutional commitment can be replicated and adapted to other Latin American countries and regions around the world
    3. Automated Waste Collection in Israel 147
      • Neot Rabin houses the country’s first pneumatic waste collection system, which is also known as an automated vacuum collection (AVAC) system
      • Buildings with AVAC systems use a network of underground pipes to connect each residential unit with a centralized garbage storage unit
      • Garbage placed in these chutes is automatically directed to an underground storage unit
      • Once a week, waste from residential buildings is pumped or vacuumed through a pipe at speeds of between 50 and 80 kilometers per hour to an aggregated storage center
      • waste is transferred to containers that are removed by truck and transported to final disposal sites.
      • AVAC has certain limitations, such as the high initial investment required for establishing the system, operational difficulties when pipes are blocked, workforce training, public willingness to engage in separate disposal, and challenges to collection of bulky and electronic waste
    4. Cooperation between National and Local Governments for Municipal Waste Management in Japan 148
    5. Central Reforms to Stabilize the Waste Sector and Engage the Private Sector in Senegal 151
    6. Decentralized Organic Waste Management by Households in Burkina Faso 152
    7. Eco-Lef: A Successful Plastic Recycling System in Tunisia 153
    8. Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes in Europe 155
    9. Financially Resilient Deposit Refund System: The Case of the Bottle Recycling Program in Palau 158
    10. Contents of What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 vii
    11. Improving Waste Collection by Partnering with the Informal Sector in Pune, India 161
    12. Improving Waste Management through Citizen Communication in Toronto, Canada 163
    13. Managing Disaster Waste 165
    14. Minimizing Food Loss and Waste in Mexico 167
    15. Sustainable Source Separation in Panaji, India 170 15. Musical Garbage Trucks in Taiwan, China 173
    16. The Global Tragedy of Marine Litter 174
    17. Using Information Management to Reduce Waste in Korea

    Class Notes

    • Colonialism and capitalism work together throughout history to allow wealthy and powerful nations to interfere in the internal development of other nations.
      • Water infrastructure development is one exception which usually stays in the area in which it is being developed
    • Example: China in Africa is responsible for most infrastructure development outside of South Africa
      • Extracting and exploiting resources for the benefit of China, and sometimes for local countries
      • China uses its own laborers rather than local laborers to do infrastructure development in Africa
        • This is one major source of new employment in China
        • It also means countries in Africa do not get to develop these technical workforces. Despite having modern infrastructure, they are not themselves able to build and maintain that infrastructure.
    • Civil engineering is designed as the art of redirecting the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man – commanding and controlling nature for the benefit of man.
    • Trade and tariff 1990s timeline
      • 1993 EU formed to collectively match economic power of the US
      • 1994 NAFTA formed to increase power of US by incorporating Mexico & Canada
      • 1995 WTO formed as a world court within the UN at the behest of the US to make decisions about international trade agreements.
    • Technologies are not approaches
      • A rainwater catchment system is a technology, not an approach
      • Solar panels are a technology, not an approach
        • Water reuse is an approach
      • Geothermal is a technology, not an approach
        • Renewable energy is an approach
      • Technologies are not necessarily solutions if they are not implemented as part of a larger framework intended to solve the problem.
    • Approaches
      • => Management strategies
        • => Processes: how to put management strategy into practice
          • => Technologies
    Approaches Management Strategies Processes/ Implementation Technologies
    Sustainability Renewable Power PACE Districts Photovoltaics
    Privatization Structural adjustment Selling off natural resources to corporations Logging
    • Unsustainable water approach
      • Water is an abundant resource
      • Water is renewable
      • Water is a commodity, not a human right
      • Climate change does not affect the water cycle
      • It’s ok to pollute water
      • Pricing allows us to incentivize certain processes
        • Desalination rather than conserving the limited supply of water
    • Sustainable water approach
      • Water is a limited resources
      • Water is not renewable
      • Water should be a human right
      • It’s not ok to pollute water
      • Climate change does affect the water cycle
    • EEE/PPP don’t talk about the economic system
      • Whereas sustainable and unsustainable development both operate within a capitalist framework.
        • Chicago school of economics
        • Neoliberalism



    1. Go to “What a Waste: Solid Waste Management to 2050″
    2. Read the report 
    3. Choose 3 case studies from the report (see list above) and be prepared to discuss them in class