Beyond the State-of-art
The proposed research will ensure a significant progress in the understanding of interactions between urban development and water resources management – and urban water management in particular. These interactions are of key importance to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean and to Greece in particular, whose urban areas are both vulnerable to floods and droughts.
The project will deliver new innovative technologies for urban water management (including rain and grey water recycling and reuse) customized to fit the Mediterranean environment, thus enhancing the applicability of these technologies in arid countries around the Mediterranean.
The proposed research is also innovative at the European/International level: the work proposed in terms of the links between urban water management and energy, but also in terms of the issue of acceptability and adoption of such technologies by end-users is of particular importance as a criterion for the successful deployment of (currently much hyped but as yet untested) decentralized technologies and practices. This is because recent research has shown (Makropoulos et al., 2010) that there is a clear trade-off between land allocation, water demand reduction and energy demand which needs to be considered when planning for large scale deployment of water technologies, beyond the prototype scale. The very definition of decentralization (being away from central command and control mechanisms and thus closer to end users – more often than not actually within the very houses of end user) means that socio-economic and cultural context needs to be studied and then incorporated into the design and deployment phase (Panebianco and Pahl-Wostl, 2006; Mitchell et al., 2008).
Unfortunately the nature of socio-economic and cultural context is too society-specific and thus initial work already undertaken in Western Europe, the US and Australia cannot be simply transferred “as it is” to the Greek (and Mediterranean) conditions. This requires that the research has to be undertaken for the first time in Greece , through a context–sensitive methodology.
Finally, the new tools to be developed in this work (linking advanced urban development models with intelligent, flexible urban water management and option selection models) will allow for a more optimized (and context-aware) deployment of technologies and ultimately improve the water saving potential for Europe.