Long-term transitioning of water distribution systems: ERC water-futures project


“The percentage of the world population living in urban settlements is expected to increase to 70% of 9.7 billion by 2050. Historically, as cities grew, the development of new water
infrastructures followed as needed. However, these developments had less to do with real planning than with reacting to crisis situations and urgent needs, due to the inability of urban water planners to consider long-term, deeply uncertain and ambiguous factors affecting urban development and water demand. The “Smart Water Futures: Designing the Next Generation of Urban Drinking Water Systems” or “Water-Futures” project, which was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), aims to develop a new theoretical framework for the allocation and development decisions on drinking water infrastructure systems so that they are: (i) socially equitable, (ii) economically efficient, and (iii) environmentally resilient, as
advocated by the UN Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals. The ERC Synergy grant project tackles the “wicked problem” of transitioning water distribution systems in a holistic manner, involving civil engineering, control engineering, machine learning, decision theory and environmental economics expertise. Developing a theoretical foundation for designing smart water systems that can deliver optimally robust and resilient decisions for short/long- term planning is one of the biggest challenges that future cities will be facing. This paper presents an overview of related past research on this topic, the knowledge gaps in terms of investigating the problem in a holistic manner, and the key early outcomes of the project.”

(Citation: Savic, D.A., Hammer, B., Koundouri, P., Polycarpou, M. – Long-term transitioning of water distribution systems: ERC water-futures project – WDSA CCWI 2022, Valencia, Spain, 18-22 July 2022 – doi:

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