Water Distribution Systems




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Publications Office of the European Union, L-2995 Luxembourg,


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Peer reviewed



Water is the source of life. Its global importance is beyond question. It is essential for all human settlements, including cities. Water influences our social, economic, political and cultural lives. Above all, it is a human right, as recognised by the United Nations back in 2010. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Clean Water and Sanitation aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, as part of an international effort to fight inequalities and tackle climate change. In order to quench the growing thirst of our planet, we need to manage water intelligently, certainly more intelligently than we have done to date. Water is an irreplaceable resource for society, but it is only renewable if well managed. We need to be open to innovation with regard to water management, especially in our cities - the urban areas which are home to an ever-increasing majority of the world’s population. In order to foster innovation and achieve its acceptance by society, scientific and technological knowledge must not only be generated but also communicated in a way that can be understood by all citizens. What must follow is an open public debate in which the priorities of our political agendas are established. And what better way to facilitate such a debate than through art? Through the passage of time, the role of water as the principal ingredient of life has been reflected in the world of art. It is the one element that has dominated human civilisation. Observing man’s perception of water through the eyes of the artist allows us to appreciate a simple truth, too often forgotten, hich is that we simply would not exist without water. The Urban Water Atlas for Europe reveals the new, pioneering concept of Sci-Art Water Diplomacy. This concept first appeared in a pilot scheme in Jordan which led to the exhibition “Science and Art in Water – Water through the eyes of Jordanian children”, organised under the auspices of the Jordanian Minister for Education by the European Commission’s science and knowledge service (the Joint Research Centre) and the partners of the Horizon 2020 Project, BlueSCities. Schoolchildren from different countries were encouraged to consider the water problems facing their region and to describe their personal feelings through drawings. The children’s thought-provoking, yet innocent images called on society to progress towards a more ecological, more sustainable and more peaceful future, perhaps far more effectively than any scientific treatise. The dramatic results of this exercise laid the philosophical basis for the Urban Water Atlas for Europe The Atlas gathers best practices of urban water management, and demonstrates how cities are addressing issues by endeavouring to become not only smart, but also resilient to the water challenges that lie ahead. The multisector collaboration involved in preparing the Atlas helped show local politicians the necessity for cities and towns to convert supranational intentions into feasible regional and local realities with regard to water and climate resilience, whilst demonstrating the advantages of an inter-municipal partnership based on trust and experience. The Atlas thus shows the way towards a new and even stronger European ideal. We hope it will be a source of inspiration for you all.



smart cities, water cycle, water distribution systems, wastewater, storm water, water reuse and recycling


Ulanicki, B. (2017). Water Distribution Systems. In: Gawlik, B.M., Easton, P., Koop, S., Van Leeuwen, K., Elelman, R., (eds.), 2017, Urban Water Atlas for Europe. European Commission, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. pp 31-34


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