Water Sustainability in the U.S.: From Water Use to Water Infrastructure

  • Water is essential for life, for our economy and ultimately our civilization. If water is so essential for the survival of our civilization, how, then can we engineer a system that integrates water to the needs of our society in a sustainable way? This module addresses this question in three parts through a review of the literature and by introducing some new ideas. In Part 1 freshwater availability, water use in the US, and water shortages are discussed. In Part 2, the current water infrastructure in urban settings and problems associated with it are discussed from the perspective of sustainability. These issues include the age of the infrastructure, the high energy consumption due to the water infrastructure, the design considerations such as the use of potable water for all purposes, absence of on-site re-use practices, and combined collection of urine, feces, and grey water. In Part 3, progress towards designing a sustainable water infrastructure is discussed by introducing two approaches at different scales. In the building scale approach changes are recommended towards decentralization and use of rainwater and wastewater as resources. In the larger scale approach, efficiency is recommended within the different water use categories.
  • Defne Apul
  • Jill Shalabi
  • Chirjiv Anand
Learning Resource Type:
  • Community – General
  • Engineering – Bioengineering and Biomedical
  • College Freshman – Graduate
Media Type:
  • Document
  • Water Sustainability
  • Consumptive Water Use
  • Water Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Infrastructure
Related ABET Criteria:
Publication Date:
  • December 2009