BlueCircles: The urban transition towards a decentralised grid of circular water systems

1 min read

If we tell you that fresh water is the most precious resource on earth, would you agree?

Healthy urban water systems are fundamental for our lives. We need them to secure food and drinking water production, clean air, social and economic welfare, even for our health and happiness. But because of climate change and rapid population growth, cities are challenged to keep the water infrastructure uptime.

By 2100 the entire urban water infrastructure could be transformed into grids of decentralised circular water systems. In the future, the urban water demand will be supplied by local water sources including stormwater, surface water, grey water and wastewater, gradually upgrading the current discharge and supply networks.

From linear to circular urban water systems

The growing urban population, together with more intense rainfall and longer droughts, impose major challenges to the existing urban infrastructure and the liveability of our cities. More people living in the city means a higher demand for freshwater, more paved area to be discharged and more wastewater is generated. Enlarging the current centralised urban drainage and supply networks as remedy is expensive and labour intensive.

BlueCircles offers a flexible and decentralised model to effectively and gradually upgrade the traditional urban networks for water supply and discharge. The growing paved surface is used as catchment area to collect rainwater run-off. Collected water is treated and stored locally, through small scale water systems, reducing discharge to the municipal network. The stored water is used to meet the local water demand. These small scale circular water systems can be implemented as addition to the existing infrastructure, in urban retrofitting or development projects, enabling the urban transition to greener, cooler and water resilient cities.

Local water sources for different applications

1. Stormwater is collected where it falls, within project boundaries, reducing discharge to the municipal sewer.

2. Water is supplied from local sources, close to the end-users, avoiding large transport and distribution networks, and enabling customised water supply.

3. Water is treated through autonomous nature-based systems, adapted to the available water volume and necessary quality.

4. Urban infrastructure is flexible for expansion to manage and minimise the impact of extreme fluctuations in water availability.

5. Water is visible in the public space, enhancing liveability.

Bluecircles offer an opportunity to keep stormwater in the neighbourhood, creating a local source for water supply and reducing discharge to the treatment plant.

BlueCircles as key opportunity to:

• Gradually upgrade ageing water infrastructure

• Ensure a safe, healthy and pleasant living environment

• Adapt to climate change and rapid urbanisation

• Reduce drinking water footprint