Water supply in urban environments is determined by a combination of natural phenomena and technical infrastructure. The goals of urban water management are to ensure access to water and sanitation infrastructure and services; manage rainwater, wastewater, stormwater drainage, and runoff pollution; control waterborne diseases and epidemics; and reduce the risk of water-related hazards, including floods, droughts, and landslides.

Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) calls for the alignment of urban development and basin management to achieve sustainable economic, social, and environmental goals. It brings together water supply, sanitation, storm- and waste-water management and integrates these with land use planning and economic development.

Urban water 1
Urban water 2

IUWM offers a set of principles that underpin better coordinated, responsive, and sustainable resource management practice. It is an approach that integrates water sources, water-use sectors, water services, and water management scales.

The core principles of IUWM include:

  • Assessing and utilising all available water resources
  • Utilsing non conventional water resources (treated wastewater, rainwater, stormwater, etc.) as a resource fit-for-purpose
  • Engaging key stakeholders
  • Strengthening partnerships on IUWM
  • Adopting low cost but high impact technical solutions
  • Designing adaptive mechanisms.

IUWM planning provides a framework for interventions over the entire water cycle and a reconsideration of the way water is used (and reused). National and local governments are gradually recognising the importance of adopting IUWM plans to address the challenges of cities. Integrated approaches in water management provide for coordination with basin management, coastal management, regional and national policies etc., not neglecting the fact that cities are interconnected to their hinterlands.


The IUWM framework is a key enabling factor in making sure cities create wealth and employment and support innovation and creativity, whilst providing opportunities to improve livelihoods and maintain ecological balance.

Cities that have effectively adopted IUWM plans can teach us many lessons. Some of these best practices are integrated to the “Water for the City” project and are indicated below:

  • Water demand management measures are closely linked with water supply measures, including all types of available water sources.
  • Rain and storm water are resources to be harvested as a water supply and infiltrated or retained to support aquifers, waterways, and vegetation.
  • Integration of water elements in urban spaces, provide multiple benefits, from harvesting water sources to avoiding floods and increasing urban green.
  • Inclusive engagement of stakeholders is pivotal to ensure that all users and interests are taken into consideration when redesigning urban water management.
  • Awareness raising is imperative to promote efficient water use and responsible water consumption behavior
  • Partnerships are essential to promote collaboration and knowledge exchange and encourage innovation in urban water applications