Erik Porse is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to analysis and modeling of innovative water management designs in cities. Eric is the newest addition to the SCI Affiliated Researcher Program.
A quiet evolution is taking place in how we use and move water within cities throughout the world. In Los Cabos, Mexico, where I am working this summer, we are planning for this evolution.
Traditionally, cities have built infrastructure that supplied residents with water from distant sources and quickly removed rainfall and sewage. Cities acquire water from more pristine sources in rural areas or deep underground. Sewer pipes remove water used in homes, businesses, and industries, while storm drains collect and move water to prevent floods. Treatment plants, which were installed throughout the twentieth century, prevent diseases and environmental pollution.
Today, many cities are developing and deploying a new set of strategies that emphasize conservation and reuse of water, while also trying to reduce contamination in local watersheds.
The evolution is driven by stricter environmental regulations, higher costs for acquiring and treating water, and changing social attitudes. The tools to promote this evolution are numerous, including landscape measures such as bioswales and green roofs, low-flow showerheads and efficient toilets, permeable pavements, and new water treatment technologies.