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Transforming water management in London

Authors: Catharina Landstrom*, University of Oxford
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Water Resources and Hydrology, Qualitative Research
Keywords: water management, urban, local community
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Water management is a growing challenge in many cities as climate change and housing development interact with hydrology and top-down decision making is evolving into complex governance networks. Urban water management cannot remain a technocratic domain and the need for change has become obvious to many. Currently cities all over the world are conducting experiments to transform their water management systems.

This paper considers one such experiment, CAMELLIA (Community Water Management for a Liveable London), a five-year project that ‘brings together environmental, engineering, urban planning and socio-economic experts with governmental and planning authorities, industry, developers and citizens to co-develop solutions that will enable housing growth in London whilst sustainably managing its water and environment.’ The project addresses some of the key concerns of local authorities, water utilities, developers and environmental NGOs in London, including how to build more housing without aggravating flood risk and water quality problems. Also important is to ensure that the amount of green space available to residents is not diminished, as well as efficient water supply and sewage.

In the presentation I discuss how the changes in water management practices desired by local environmental groups relate to institutional responsibilities and water industry goals. The aim is to identify friction among the heterogenous water governance actors that the CAMELLIA project could address, as well as tensions that could impede successful transformation. Teasing out implicit cross-purposes among water governance actors is important to promote the success of transdisciplinary experiments with urban water management.

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