Urban Water Innovation Network (U-WIN): Transitioning Toward Sustainable Urban Water Systems
Funding Source: National Science Foundation (8/1/15
Urban water connects coupled natural-built systems and underpins the long-term health and resilience of all human settlements, from small towns to mega-regions. Indeed, all human life depends on water. That is why a majority of all Americans rank the nation’s water resources higher than any other environmental issue. The complexity of urban water systems defies stovepipe thinking and requires the systems approach proposed in the Sustainability Research Network focused on urban water. The network links perspectives and resources from 14 institutions, each with longstanding programs in water research and education, and close ties to water and urban sustainability stakeholders across the U.S. The mission of the network is to advance the fundamental knowledge, build capacity, and forge collaborations needed to find technological and behavioral solutions that promote sustainable urban water systems. The network seeks solutions that achieve widespread adoption consistent with inclusive, equitable and sustainable urban development.
The highly integrated research, outreach, education and participatory approach will produce a toolbox of sustainable solutions by simultaneously minimizing pressures, enhancing resilience to extreme events, and maximizing cobenefits, including urban heat island mitigation. Benefits will reverberate across other systems, such as urban ecosystems, economies, and arrangements for environmental justice and social equity. The approach is grounded in an adaptive societal learning and assessment process that will culminate in an Urban Water Sustainability Blueprint, which will characterize impacts and tradeoffs associated with sustainable solutions across spatial and temporal scales and among cities. The Blueprint will be rigorously vetted by regional stakeholders across the U.S. and the global urban water community.
The Network will establish six highly connected regional urban water sustainability hubs in densely populated urban regions across the U.S. These regional hubs, will serve as innovation centers to help communities transition to sustainable management of water resources. Our strategic partnership with other prominent U.S. national and international networks will extend the network’s reach to more than 100 cities around the world where in some cases urban water management is a life-or-death matter. The SRN’s global impact will be multiplied by cascading effects of institutions working with other institutions within a global hub for sustainable urban water systems. By developing the intellectual framework and messaging required to inform and build capacity among the other institutions, the global impact of the hub will be fostered through communication and exchange of knowledge, data, and tools. Over the five year project period, the Network will train 23 PhD students, 4 postdoctoral research associates, and two early career scientists from diverse backgrounds in research, outreach, education, and broadening participation of network activities. The Network will also train 50 undergraduates with diverse backgrounds via a creative interdisciplinary undergraduate research program.