Water Consumption – Sustainable Development

Concerns for sustainable urban development include:

  • Increases in water consumption
  • The urban heat island (UHI) effect, whereby building materials in cities, such as concrete and asphalt, retain heat and create local warming.

A study in the United States has suggested that:

  • Urban sprawl resulted in an increase in evaporation and therefore external water consumption.  As water evaporation and external water consumption increased, so did night-time cooling
  • Urban densification resulted in a decrease in water evaporation, but only slightly less cooling at night.
  • There is a threshold at which continued increases in water evaporation would no longer lead to an increase in cooling and temperatures would stay at the same level.

The research indicates that land cover and water use are intertwined in their effects on urban heat fluxes.

  • Vegetation and water consumption patterns should be taken into account in development plans.
  • Trees should be prioritised over grass for better promotion of urban cooling whilst reducing water consumption