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Characterise the Urban Water Cycle


The comprehensive and up-to-date characterization of the urban water cycle has to be made by the WCSP team to ensure that, in subsequent steps of the WCSP, risks are adequately identified, assessed and treated.

The description of the complete urban water cycle  provides insight for the stakeholders of each other’s systems and especially the interaction between the different elements of the water cycle. If existing information on stakeholders’ systems is outdated, this WCSP step constitutes an opportunity for updating the utilities information which will also be beneficial for other areas within the organization (e.g. infrastructure asset management). Open exchange of information between stakeholders provides a complete picture of the situation and enables adequate risk assessment. The characterization includes layouts and databases, operational data, knowledge of land uses, including industries, and a set of criteria and targets for products and services in the water cycle.

The characterisation of the urban water cycle should be in agreement with the characterisation carried out at the system level of analysis and updated accordingly. For the approach at the water cycle level, major functions and interactions have to be identified. At the system level (see Chapter 4), a more detailed characterisation is required to support the subsequent risk assessment process.

Additionally, stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities should be refined at all systems boundaries.

An overview of practical symbols is provided below. Also two examples of system descriptions are shown.


Key actions

  1. Identify and describe water cycle components and interactions

  2. Construct a water cycle flow diagram

  3. Describe the urban water systems

  4. Identify criteria and targets for products and services

Example of  elements of the urban water cycle