Water Sensitive Cities Index

Benchmarking cities against urban water indicators

Interested in benchmarking your city?

For more information email: wsc-index@crcwsc.com.au

WSC-Index Providers Access

Why is it needed?

The vision of a water sensitive city has emerged as an aspirational concept where water is managed in a way that meets a city’s water needs while also supporting a city’s urban liveability, sustainability, resilience and productivity. While many places are beginning to articulate aspirations represented by the water sensitive city concept, becoming a water sensitive city requires a significant departure from the conventional mode of water servicing. Cities need to transition from a large-scale, centralised infrastructure approach to a more decentralised system that integrates water, the built and natural environments, and communities.

The   Urban Water Transitions Framework identifies six distinct developmental states that cities may move through on their path towards increased water sensitivity. A city’s journey through these states is not linear and may involve leapfrogging, a concept that allows developing cities to learn from more developed cities in order to accelerate their transition to more desirable states.

Urban Water Transitions Framework













Developing a shared perspective of water today in relation to future water sensitive aspirations is critical in establishing the understanding, motivation and capacity amongst stakeholders to drive their water sensitive city transition. The CRCWSC has developed the Water Sensitive Cities Index (WSC Index) tool to guide coordinated action amongst stakeholders and to assist cities in navigating their water sensitive city journey.

What is it?

The WSC Index is a tool designed to benchmark a city’s current performance against seven goals of a water sensitive city. These goals include both biophysical and socio-institutional goals, which organised 34 corresponding indicators.

Each of the 34 indicators are scored on a 1-5 rating scale in a collaborative workshop process. The data is then entered into a web-based platform that can filter the results according to what is most useful for the user.

The WSC Goals









How are the results presented?

WSC Index goals

The scores for the WSC Index goals are determined based on the relevant indicator scores. The goal scores can be represented in a footprint diagram that helps visually articulate where a city’s strengths and weaknesses lie. The larger the footprint, the closer the city is to achieving a score of 5 for each goal area.

Urban Water Transitions Framework

The WSC Index results can be filtered according to the city-state continuum of the Urban Water Transitions Framework. The scores are presented as a percentage attainment of each of the city-states. It is important to note that the early city-states do not have to be fully achieved to be progressing the later city-states.

Water Sensitive City Outcomes

The WSC Index results can also be filtered according to the outcomes of a water sensitive city, which are: liveability, sustainability, productivity, and resilience. This allows cities to be able to advance particular water sensitive city outcomes.

WSC Index Applications

The WSC Index has been applied in a number of different contexts across Australia and internationally, and also at multiple different scales (local government areas, regional cities, capital cities). The map below shows the location of cities and councils that have been benchmarked to date.

WSC Transition Planning brochures available for download here:

“This was the best consultative work that I have witnessed in 17 years. The CRCWSC’s professionalism and knowledge showed that the Council clearly found the right people for the job. The workshop environment was truly objective, with no bias or pressure. I am very confident that the outcomes will yield the best results for the project.”
Dr Hamid Mirfenderesk , City of Gold Coast

What are the benefits?

Using the WSC Index to benchmark your city’s current water sensitive performance has a range of benefits, including:

  • A shared understanding of how water is managed today
  • Improved understanding amongst stakeholders of the range of outcomes associated with becoming a water sensitive city and the types of solutions that are needed
  • Insight into local areas of strength and weaknesses in relation to becoming a water sensitive city
  • A useful starting point to deliver the CRCWSC’s Transition Planning Process

Interested in benchmarking your city?

We run a series of workshops, with online access to the web tool, so that participants can review benchmarking results, as well as plan and track progress.

For more information please email:   wsc-index@crcwsc.com.au