New principles to create water-wise cities

12 October 2016, Brisbane – To overcome the problems that are leading to pressure on water resources in urban areas, and to an increasing number of drought and flooding crises, the International Water Association (IWA) today launches the Principles for Water-Wise Cities at the 2016 World Water Congress and Exhibition in Brisbane.

“Cities are rapidly expanding and water resources are under increasing pressure. We need to find ways to do more with less,” says Corinne Trommsdorff, programme manager for the Cities of the Future Program at the International Water Association. “The Principles will be used to bring people together for resilient city planning and to guide the urban water revolution needed in cities of the future,” says Trommsdorff.

The IWA developed the 17 principles to help city leaders ensure that everyone in their cities has access to safe water and sanitation, that their cities are resilient to floods, droughts and the challenges of growing water scarcity, and that water is integrated in city planning to provide increased livability, efficiencies, and a sense of place for urban communities.

The 17 principles are grouped into four categories:

1.Regenerative water services: including replenishing water bodies and their ecosystems, reducing the amount of water and energy used, recovering energy, nutrients and other materials from water, and increased efficiencies by integrating water services with other services.

2.Water sensitive urban design: including designing urban spaces to reduce flood risks, enhance livability with visible water, and modify and adapt urban materials to minimise environmental impact.

3.Basin connected cities: including planning to secure water resources and mitigate drought, protect the quality of water resources and prepare for extreme events.

4.Water-wise communities: including empowering citizens, increasing professional awareness of water and enabling policy makers to take water-wise action.

“The floods that hit Brisbane in 2011 and 2013 and the Millennium Drought have reshaped our city’s relationship with water, highlighting the importance of managing water at all stages of the water cycle. To ensure Brisbane meets the challenges of an increasing population, and to respond to our changing climate, Brisbane City Council is embracing the International Water Association’s Principles for Water Wise Cities” said Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk.

The cities of Gothenburg, Kunshan, Lyon, Melbourne Metropolitan Area, Sydney, Shenzhen, Xi’an, Dakar, Amsterdam and Brisbane are becoming the first cities to endorse the IWA Principles at their launch during the World Water Congress (Brisbane, 09-14 October). Amsterdam and Copenhagen are endorsing the Principles through their water authorities. The companies Arup, Arcadis, Veolia, Ramboll, Schneider, Suez, Xylem will be endorsing the principles at the Congress.

The 17 principles for water-wise cities encourage collaboration, underpinned by a shared vision, so that local governments, urban professionals, and individuals can actively prepare and find solutions to urban water management challenges.


Notes to the editor: The complete list of the 17 principles for water-wise cities is available here:

About the International Water Association

The International Water Association is a unique, global knowledge hub for water professionals and anyone concerned about the future of water. It has sixty-year heritage connecting water professionals worldwide to find solutions to the world’s water challenges as part of a broader sustainability agenda. As a non-profit organisation with members in more than 130 countries, the IWA connects scientists to practitioners and communities so that pioneering research delivers sustainable solutions. It further fosters technological innovation and drives best practice through international frameworks and standards.


Water underpins every aspect of human and environmental existence. The severe water challenges facing the world today require an unprecedented global response. IWA members and staff are situated in more than 140 countries worldwide, forming the large... Read full biography