The ability to engineer water for irrigation was the foundation of civilisation. A safe supply of drinking water and the clean disposal of foul water are essential to modern life.

Sustainable water management means minimising our impact on the healthy functioning of the water cycle. Although the total amount of water on the planet does not change, the way we use and manage water has far-reaching effects.

So far the impact of climate change has been most visible through flooding and drought. It is clear that we need to make our places more resilient against the worst effects of climate change.

However, we should not forget that water is a valuable design resource too, increasing financial value and visual amenity. Integrating water features into design can add value to our places at the same time as we address climate change.

The benefits of sustainable water management include reducing the risk of flooding, cooling microclimates, reducing carbon emissions, providing opportunities for recreation and lowering environmental and economic costs.

More about water


Water advice

Browse our advice about sustainable energy planning.

Water examples

Examples of good practice in sustainable water management exist in the UK and around the world.

Water policy

Sustainable water management needs a joined-up approach given a complex policy context influenced by regulators, European Directives and national legislation.

Water leadership for local authorities

Local authorities can help reduce consumption of potable water, promote more sustainable management and lead on local strategies to reduce flood risk.

Water benefits

Water is a valuable asset that brings economic, quality of life and health benefits when it is managed well.

CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield