Urban water management

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The Urban Water Management organized the handling of drinking water , process water , wastewater and storm water in the vicinity of settlements. In terms of its knowledge base, it is mainly assigned to civil engineering in Germany, Austria and Switzerland .

Water supply and disposal

The drinking and industrial water supply is technically subdivided into water extraction , water treatment , water storage , water pumping and water distribution .

The wastewater disposal is subdivided into the wastewater discharge , the wastewater treatment and also the sewage sludge treatment .

The fresh water and wastewater areas were traditionally separate from one another. Increasingly, also due to the advancement in the treatment technology (see. Nanofiltration ), and the discussion about Ecosan systems recognized that also treated waste water a source of water, in particular for use as process water may be.

Rainwater management

For a long time, rainwater management was the most controversial area of ​​urban water management. Heavy rain can cause flooding in industrialized countries too . In order to minimize their effects on infrastructure and public life, in some cases complex and costly rain drainage systems were built. This means that rainwater can get into the receiving waters faster and in larger quantities and the risk of flooding increases for those below .

A proven countermeasure for large-scale soil sealing is the unsealing . This means doing without draining rainwater, which instead seeps away on the spot. This strategy is suitable in the context of new construction measures and requires a water-permeable subsoil and a sufficient distance to the groundwater level .

Organization, pricing and profitability

Over 90 percent of drinking water and wastewater companies worldwide are publicly owned. In the 1990s there was a wave of private sector participation in urban water management, beginning in England and then spanning numerous developing countries. This wave has now largely flattened out. The participation of the private sector has advantages and disadvantages.

According to theory, private property and the market economy can provide more efficiency in the production of goods, i.e. more benefits with less effort. The problem, however, is that economic goods, the provision of which is based on the use of an expensive network infrastructure, represent a natural monopoly . In the absence of state control, a company active in urban water management could therefore theoretically maximize its profit thanks to the lack of competition from monopoly prices.

The economic regulation of monopoly operations by independent regulators is practiced in England and Wales in order to keep production costs at an efficient level and company profits at a level appropriate to the industry risk. There, price adjustments are specified by the regulatory authority OFWAT, for example for five-year periods.

See also