Globally, water resources management in urbanised areas is facing increased pressures and challenges. Pressures range from an increased demand for water supply and a decline in water quality due to ongoing population growth through to climate change impacts. To address these challenges cities and regions alike will need to adopt water sensitive strategies. The concept of urban metabolism has emerged in the last decades as a useful tool that can improve water resources management and planning as well as guide metropolitan growth. In particular, the application of the concept of urban metabolism associated with urban and water planning can aid in establishing water sensitive cities and regions.

Australian metropolitan regions face the threats of climate extremes such as floods and droughts. Drawing on a conceptual framework based on urban metabolism, this paper presents a comparative analysis on how water resources planning and management is addressing these threats in three major Australian metropolitan regions: South East Queensland, Melbourne and Perth. The analysis focuses on existing plans, strategies and policies used to guide water resources and urban planning and management in the three regions. Findings are discussed around three major themes, including hydrological and environmental connections, future changes and uncertainties, and institutional arrangements and governance. The paper concludes by highlighting key insights that can inform how these threats can be better addressed through urban and water resources planning and management in Australia and elsewhere.


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