Modelling the future impacts of urban spatial planning on the viability of alternative water supply

Tony Hargreaves, Raziyeh Farmani, Sarah Ward, David Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
220 Downloads (Pure)


Greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting have the potential to increase the resilience of water management and reduce the need for investment in conventional water supply schemes. However, their water-savings would partly depend on the location and built-form of urban development and hence its household sizes and rainwater per dwelling. We have therefore tested how spatial planning options would affect the future viability of alternative water supply in the Greater South East of England. Our integrated modelling framework, for the first time, forecasts the future densities and variability of built-form to provide inputs to the modelling of alternative water supply. We show that using projections of the existing housing stock would have been unsound, and that using standard dwelling types and household sizes would have substantially overestimated the water-savings, by not fully representing how the variability in dwelling dimensions and household-sizes would affect the cost effectiveness of these systems. We compare the spatial planning trend over a 30 year period with either compaction at higher densities within existing urban boundaries, or market-led more dispersed development. We show how the viability of alternative water supply would differ between these three spatial planning options. The water-savings of rainwater harvesting would vary greatly at a regional scale depending on residential densities and rainfall. Greywater recycling would be less affected by spatial planning but would have a finer balance between system costs and water-savings and its feasibility would vary locally depending on household sizes and water efficiency. The sensitivity of the water savings to differences in rainfall and water prices would vary with residential density. The findings suggest that forecasts of residential densities, rainfall and the water price could be used in conjunction with more detailed local studies to indicate how spatial planning would affect the future water saving potential of alternative water supply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-213
Number of pages14
JournalWater Research
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2019


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