Trends in Demand of Urban Surface Water Extractions and in Situ Use Functions

E.S. van der Meulen*, N.B. Sutton, F.H.M. van de Ven, P.R. van Oel, H.H.M. Rijnaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Scientific literature currently lacks comprehensive understanding of urban surface water use functions. This hampers sound analysis of the demand and potential supply of these functions. This study provides a comprehensive overview of potential use functions, by integrating knowledge from ecosystem services and integrated urban water management fields. Analysis of water-related management plans for Toronto and Amsterdam shows that surface water is currently being used for a variety of functions related to nutrition, energy, water regulation, recreation, symbolic use, transportation and floating buildings. Notably, many use functions involve in situ use, rather than water extractions. Interviewed water managers and spatial planners in both cities expect demand of most use functions to increase by 2040, especially demand for thermal energy extraction, recreation and transportation. Some identified novel demands, such as climate regulation and reuse of waste products from waterway maintenance. Increasing demand is mainly driven by urban growth, climate change and sustainability ambitions. This study found urban surface water uses that are usually not acknowledged in scientific literature on urban water management. This comprehensive overview supports planning, design, and maintenance of urban surface waters, laying the foundation for future research on supply and demand of urban water use functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4943–4958
JournalWater Resources Management
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020


  • Amsterdam
  • Ecosystem services
  • Toronto
  • Urban water resources management
  • Water demand
  • Water use


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