Urban Water - Sustainable Water Management in Urban Space

Background and Goals

Eight partners from Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France have come together to form a project community to formulate concepts for modern water management in urban areas. The focus is on sustainable development and regeneration of urban water systems. They come up with integrated concepts for surface water and waste water systems, which are implemented at selected locations as an example. The transnational results include both mutual sharing of knowledge and experience and jointly developed planning concepts, innovative planning methods and recommendations for legal instruments, right through to actual legislation. The project develops intelligent solutions for linking urban development and water management from an ecological, economic and social perspective. All of the measures involved in the project aim to maintain and develop an intact environment in North West Europe.

The project has five main objectives:

  1. Improving water systems in urban areas;
  2. Promoting cooperation between spatial planning and water management;
  3. Recommendations for regulations and guidelines for integration of sustainable water management and urban development;
  4. Transnational sharing of experience and knowledge transfer between bodies at regional, national and supranational level;
  5. Raising public awareness of the problems of ""water in the city"".

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Netherlands
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Bavaria
  • Northrhine-Westphalia
Natural spatial classification
  • West German lowland bay

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Climate change is not analysed

Further Parameters 

Precipitation, heavy rain events

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

No climate effects analysed. Effects of current extreme precipitation events impact on water quantity (flood and drought periods) and water quality (contamination of ground and surface water).

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Adaptation measures for climate change are not analysed.

The most important recommendations and messages are:

- Integration of water management into urban planning: The people responsible for the planning process should establish informal or semi-formal networks. These must be incorporated into the applicable formal processes. Spatial planners and water managers should cooperate on planning at an early stage. Use of the Dutch ""Water Toets"" assessments is recommended for authorities in other countries. Communities should adopt a role that creates a balance between strategic and operational decisions and between condition and action based planning.

- Better water quality for cities:

Combined measures to increase cost efficiency and effectiveness - WRRL measures, flood protection activities and public structural measures can be effectively combined.

Combination of available resources - Funds approved for different purposes (e.g. for street maintenance or sewage) can also be used for other objectives.

Incentives for integration of water management into urban development - Commitment to uncoupling can be strengthened by incorporation into building plans.

Analysis of the entire water system - Measures motivated by a single aim are often not effective. The entire range of options to prevent water pollution must be considered. The people responsible for urban development and water

need a clear delineation of duties - This is the only way to ensure optimum implementation of measures in terms of their technical capability, costs and influence on the environment.

Improvement of ecological water quality - Analysis of chemical water quality is not sufficient to formulate the most effective measures.

Agreement of uncoupling targets - Ambitious but achievable targets should be put in place at local and regional level.

- Public involvement and publicity:

Development of appropriate communication strategies - The scale of the project must be taken into account. Can the project manager deal with communication alone or is support required? Start with clear conditions but leave the process open. The project initiator must be a reliable partner.

Develop a well-structured and transparent communication plan - Who does what, when and why?

Keep the schedule flexible. Take account of public interests in the project development phase, in order to be equipped to deal with changes or even to terminate a project.

Provide the public with sober and objective information about the implementation of technical measures and highlight possible solutions.

Make representatives of different interest groups aware of their role and contribution to an improved water system.

- Learn from partners - Benefit at home:

Support for new developments within the EU - International partnerships feed innovations into national systems. In addition, networks at national, regional and local level are strengthened.

Successful knowledge transfer calls for a gradual process - To optimise planning or implement a new idea, sharing experiences and comparing advantages and disadvantages first is important. Reflection and application to local conditions can then take place.


Funding / Financing 

Funding from the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRD) in the framework of the EU Initiative Interreg IIIB North West Europe

Project management 



Cooperation with eight partners from Scotland, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany:

  • municipal authority of Nieuwegein (NL);
  • Renfrewshire Council (UK);
  • Lippeverband (public water board) (DE);
  • municipal authority of Arnhem (NL);
  • municipal authority of Nijmegen (NL);
  • Ministry for Transport, Water Management and Public Works (NL);
  • Lille Métropole Communauté Urbaine (F);

Project assistance:

  • INFRASTRUKTUR & UMWELT, Professor Böhm und Partner

Emscher Genossenschaft
Kronprinzenstraße 24
D-45128 Essen

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Fields of action:
 water regime and water management