Towards Smart, Benign Urban Water Infrastructure
This chapter advances ideas for reducing the unsustainability of infrastructure, in the belief that true sustainability of water systems of large cities is unfortunately implausible. Our drinking water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure ("infrastructure") is truly complex and requires constant and expensive repair and monitoring. Such investments warrant good information systems. In the future, infrastructure information systems will integrate sensors with GIS data systems and water management models. Future water systems will be smarter, having intelligence distributed throughout the network. Such intelligence could eventually be continuously available on line to all categories of users of the web, with the water network performance information displayed at a complexity optimized to suit the user. Physical sizes of future infrastructure will depend more on the requirements of autonomous robots, the collection, transmission and processing of intelligence relating to the network performance, and evolving synthetic pipeline materials and multi-service cable-pipes. Use of local recycling and pressure sewers will permit downsizing of infrastructure.
Four controversial issues are presented: For less unsustainability of urban, suburban and rural communities, future systems will become less dependent on non-renewable energy. Energy economy is derived from recycling water as locally as possible. New sanitary collection systems for treating human liquid and solid wastes separately will substantially reduce ecosystem impacts. Even better for ecosystems will be the gradual change of general diet (this impact is not immediately obvious). Logically, a consequence of the pursuit of reduced unsustainability is that the size of the human and its domestic animal populations and their associated water demand and concomitant waste load will have to be managed.
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