© 2017

Urban Water Trajectories

  • Sarah Bell
  • Adriana Allen
  • Pascale Hofmann
  • Tse-Hui Teh
  • Multi-disciplinary focus, including design, engineering, ecology, politics, planning, geography and other social sciences

  • Global case studies and authors, crossing developed and developing country contexts

  • Addresses key trends in debates about water in cities, highlighting conflicting as well as convergent viewpoints

  • Audience of urban professionals, activists, researchers and students

  • Identifies the practical impact of politics and discourse about water in cities


Part of the Future City book series (FUCI, volume 6)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Water Transformations

  3. Water Options

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 51-52
    2. Anna Hurlimann, Elizabeth Wilson, Svenja Keele
      Pages 53-68
    3. Jonathan Wilcox, Sarah Bell, Fuzhan Nasiri
      Pages 69-80
  4. Water Services

  5. Water Politics

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 209-214

About this book


Water is an essential element in the future of cities. It shapes cities’ locations, form, ecology, prosperity and health. The changing nature of urbanisation, climate change, water scarcity, environmental values, globalisation and social justice mean that the models of provision of water services and infrastructure that have dominated for the past two centuries are increasingly infeasible. Conventional arrangements for understanding and managing water in cities are being subverted by a range of natural, technological, political, economic and social changes. The prognosis for water in cities remains unclear, and multiple visions and discourses are emerging to fill the space left by the certainty of nineteenth century urban water planning and engineering.

This book documents a sample of those different trajectories, in terms of water transformations, option, services and politics. Water is a key element shaping urban form, economies and lifestyles, part of the ongoing transformation of cities. Cities are faced with a range of technical and policy options for future water systems. Water is an essential urban service, but models of provision remain highly contested with different visions for ownership of infrastructure, the scale of provision, and the level of service demanded by users. Water is a contentious political issue in the future of cities, serving different urban interests as power and water seem to flow in the same direction.

Cities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America provide case studies and emerging water challenges and responses. Comparison across different contexts demonstrates how the particular and the universal intersect in complex ways to generate new trajectories for urban water.


water cities politics infrastructure risk urban

Editors and affiliations

  • Sarah Bell
    • 1
  • Adriana Allen
    • 2
  • Pascale Hofmann
    • 3
  • Tse-Hui Teh
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic EngineeringUniversity College London (UCL)LondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.The Bartlett Development Planning UnitUniversity College London (UCL)LondonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.The Bartlett Development Planning UnitUniversity College London (UCL)LondonUnited Kingdom
  4. 4.The Bartlett School of PlanningUniversity College London (UCL)LondonUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Sarah Bell's (the lead editor) research interests lie in the relationships between engineering, technology and society as they impact on sustainability, particularly in relation to water systems. She uses research methods informed by theories from the science and technology studies, philosophy of technology and philosophy of engineering. She has supervised work in Australia, the UK, Mexico, Pakistan and Peru and has worked with a number of external partners including Waterwise, Arup, AECOM, Thames Water and WWF. She tweets @sarahjaynebell and blogs.

Bibliographic information

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