Urban metabolism and resource recovery
Urban water metabolism analyses the trajectories and magnitudes of water flows, plus the energy and nutrients that are created in the process of treating or pumping water.
Resource recovery involves removing and separating materials from a waste stream and using them productively. Circular economies have fewer resources going in and less waste going out, and offer an alternative to the traditional linear pattern of consuming and disposing resources.
Research findings and reports
Our research on urban metabolism and resource recovery has identified some interesting findings, for example:
- An urban water metabolism evaluation framework showed how urbanisation dramatically altered hydrological flows in south-east Queensland, Melbourne and Perth metropolitan areas. (Understanding urban water performance at the city-region scale using an urban water metabolism evaluation framework)
- This report identifies quantifiable indicators than can gauge performance against water-related resource management objectives. (Urban water metabolism indicators derived from a water mass balance – Bridging the gap between visions and performance assessment of urban water resource management)
- Purple phototropic bacteria can be used to concentrate organics and macronutrients in a solids stream during wastewater treatment. The solids stream can be anaerobically digested to generate energy and recover nutrients. (Phototrophic bacteria for nutrient recovery from domestic wastewater)
- This report shows how subsurface water flow could be diverted for irrigation in two urban developments on low-lying land on the Swan Coastal Plain in Western Australia. (Urban subsurface drainage as an alternative water source in a drying climate)
You will find a range of research reports on urban metabolism and resource recovery under the categories below.
Urban water metabolism
- Book chapter: Integrated urban water systems
- How has urban water metabolism been communicated? Perspectives from the USA, Europe and Australia
- Quantifying the hydrological performance of infill development
- Analysing water sensitive urban design options
- Understanding urban water performance at the city-region scale using an urban water metabolism evaluation framework
- Urban water metabolism indicators derived from a water mass balance – Bridging the gap between visions and performance assessment of urban water resource management
- Advancing the adaptation of the water resource sector in highly urbanised regions across Australia
- Water sensitive cities and regions: tackling threats to water resources in metropolitan areas.
- A metabolism perspective on alternative urban water servicing options using water mass balance
- Evaluation approaches for advancing urban water goals
- Connecting land-use and water planning: Prospects for an urban water metabolism approach
- The case for urban metabolism: what is it, and how can it help the water sector?
- Urban metabolism for planning water sensitive city-regions Proof of concept for an urban water metabolism evaluation framework
- Urban metabolism for planning water sensitive cities
- Resource recovery from wastewater by biological technologies: opportunities, challenges, and prospects
- Wastewater – An untapped resource? Report of a study by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
- Nutrient removal
- Phototrophic bacteria for nutrient recovery from domestic wastewater
- Urban subsurface drainage as an alternative water source in a drying climate
The CRCWSC’s urban metabolism and resource recovery research has been applied to:
- The Ideas for the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct explores the 'buffertopia' concept – an innovative way to manage the wastewater treatment plants and the buffer zones that surround them. The vision is for the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct is for a concentration of technology companies and researchers working on new approaches to wastewater treatment and the buffer zone around it.
- A proposal to recover water, nutrients and biogas from organic waste from food and gardens in Ideas for South Bank
- An opportunity to use sewage and surplus stormwater runoff as a resource for affordable local reuse in Ideas for Ripley Valley
- A proposal to harvest and treat greywater for use as a potable water source to minimise reliance on central potable water supplies and concentrate the sewerage waste stream discharged to a local resource recovery plan in Ideas for Fishermans Bend
- An opportunity to use purple phototrophic bacteria to assimilate nutrients from wastewater to be used as a fertiliser or to recover energy and nutrients in Ideas for Tonsley
Tools and guidelines
- We have developed industry guidance informed by our urban metabolism and resource recovery research, for example:
- The urban water cycle of the Scenario Tool can be used to model water inflows, use and outflows.
- The Site-scale Urban Water Mass Balance Assessment Tool can be used to estimate the water flows in the natural and anthropogenic water cycles.
- The Infill Performance Evaluation Framework can be used to assess the performance of an urban entity including all flows and storage of piped and natural flows.
Urban metabolism, urban water metabolism, water mass balance – differentiation of concepts (Renouf et al. 2017. Urban metabolism for planning water sensitive city-regions. Proof of concept for an urban water metabolism evaluation framework. Melbourne, Australia: CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, p. 13.)
Urban water mass balance – “urban system” components, boundary and water flows (Renouf et al., 2020. Water sensitive outcomes for infill development: Infill Performance Evaluation Framework. Melbourne, Australia: CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, p. 42.)