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New Concept for Water Management in Urban Areas of China

Zifu Li*, W. F. Geiger**, Xin Jin*

* School of Civil & Environmental Engineering University of Science and Technology Beijing, Xueyuan Road 30, 100083 Beijing Email: zifulee@yahoo.com.cn **Institute for Urban Water Management University of Essen-Duisburg Universitaetsstrasse 15, 45141 Essen, Germany
Abstract: With rapid economic development and urban growth, water shortage and resource pollution is now a serious problem for urban water supply in many Chinese cities. At same time, with enlargement of urban areas and increase of sealing areas (reduction of green spaces, new road and building construction etc.), runoffs of rainwater increase greatly, which lead to the increase of frequency and intensity of urban floods. The majority of water used for indoor domestic purposes is normally discharged after use as wastewater. This wastewater is collected by sewer system and treated at a centralized wastewater treatment plant, then discharged into the waters. Also little polluted rainwater is collected and discharged from residential areas into the waters as early and much as possible. This water management method in urban areas has lead to a range of water crises, including floods and scarcity. Therefore, new concepts to ease this situation should be developed. As alternative water management method, domestic wastewater and rainwater can be collected, treated and reused on site, thereby promoting more water efficient use. On-site water management at this level offers the opportunity to provide benefits for the consumer and the environment. The principal of innovative water management is to minimize the consumption of drinking water and the production of stormwater and wastewater cost-effectively. In this study innovative water management concept will be introduced, which could alleviate the situation of water problems caused by conventional centralized water system as well as insufficient wastewater treatment system in China. Keywords: Water management, water scarcity, Water saving, on-site wastewater treatment,sustainable water management


Water saving Table 1 compares the water consumption in Chinese and German households. Despite different living habits, individual water consumptions are similar. Therefore, water saving techniques can be easily adapted to the local conditions. The first step in sustainable water management is to avoid water losses, especially repairing water leakages and to install water saving techniques will be possible. Figure 1 provides an overview of the some water saving techniques, which are used in many developed countries popularly and also could be used in most Chinese households.


Germany [l/(capita day)]

China [l/(capita day)] 27 48 44 18 13 -**

Water saving potentials [%] 37.5% Up to 50% 20 50 % 50 95 % unknown 20% unknown

Shower/bat h* Basins * Kitchen sinks * toilet flushing Laundry Cleaning Irrigation

37 7 11 18 18 4 5


Many cities in China suffer from water scarcity and local flooding. With the rapid urban development increasingly the present water supply and drainage systems have to be improved. This provides the opportunity to introduce sustainable new concepts. In this article different levels of urban water supply and drainage system are presented and discussed and some recommendations will be given.

Sum 100 150 *most suitable for greywater ** no data of irrigation in urban area are available
Equipment Technique Aerator combined with a flow restrictor (hansgrohe) Saving potential

4-Liter-Toilet with low-flush bowl (Sphinx Gustavsberg) Alternatives: - Vacuum toilet - Separating toilet - Composting toilet No-flush-urinal (Ernst-Ingenieur AG)

Figure 1: Examples of water saving equipment and their saving potentials

978-1-4244-4639-1/09/$25.00 2009 IEEE




Flow restrictor inside the hose (hansgrohe)


Figure 2 shows the characteristics of different kinds of domestic wastewater flows. Blackwater contains about 90% of the nitrogen and phosphorus, which might be recovered if blackwater is not much diluted. Blackwater can be further separated into yellow water and brown water. Yellow water contains most of nutrients, whereas brown water contains organic materials, phosphorus and pathogens. Greywater contains only a small amount of nutrients, but exhibits a large volume flow. Therefore, separating different kinds of domestic wastewater flows could reach higher treatment efficiencies and increase material recovery significantly.


Storm water treatment and runoff is an equally important part of sustainable water management. The water regime of an area is characterized by a balance between rain, evaporation, surface runoff and groundwater recharge. In urban areas sealing of surfaces changes water balance as compared to natural conditions. Figure 4 illustrates the interaction of surfaces, runoff and groundwater recharge. When surfaces are sealed, evaporation and groundwater recharge are reduced. On impermeable surfaces, such as roofs or roads, all the rain results in surface runoff. If groundwater is scarce, complete infiltration of the surface runoff through stormwater infiltration facilities increases groundwater recharge. However, also stormwater runoff may cause pollution, especially if it picks up dirty on surfaces. In this case thourough treatment becomes necessary prior to infiltration. If stormwater infiltration is applied to large urban districts, the groundwater tables may rise. The best solution is to harvest rainwater as much as possible directly for household or other uses on-site and infiltrate only the storm runoff, which can not be stored. The infiltrated storm water can be recovered later for water supply.
large evaporation from plants and from surface little evaporation large and from plants and immediate from surface surface runoff little evaporation from plants and from surface

Greywater recycling may be part of a sustainable water management concept, especially if high demand for service water, i.e. landscape irrigation, car washing etc. exists. Greywater is domestic wastewater which is not contaminated by faeces and urine and is generated by the use of hand basins, showers and baths, washing machines, and even dishwashers and kitchen sinks. The amount of wastewater generated by different households will vary greatly according to the number of occupants, their age distribution, lifestyle and water usage patterns. Greywater represents about 70% of the total wastewater and represents a water resource. Greywater treatment processes can range from natural methods such as constructed wetlands to highly technical treatment systems. In figure 3 some photos of greywater treatment technologies are shown.

Figure 2: Characteristics of different kinds of domestic wastewater flows

little surface runoff

no surface runoff

little ground water recharge falling ground water levels

little ground water recharge

rising ground water levels

large ground water recharge

Natural water balance

Imbalance of water cycle by sewered drainage

Distortion of groundwater by disappropriate infiltration

Figure 4: Evaporation, surface runoff and infiltration depending on surface sealing and choice of drainage system (acc. to Geiger & Dreiseitl, 2000)

With conventional water supply and drainage systems a large amount of water is used and wastewater is generated. Application of water saving techniques can reduce fresh water demand and wastewater discharge significantly, sometimes by 50% or more. By greywater recycling water demand can be further lowered. In addition, rainwater harvesting, blackwater treatment and reuse locally of course would minimize fresh water supply from outside mostly and avoid wastewater production completely. Figure 5 shows the principles of water supply and wastewater production under different conditions.
a.Conventional Central Water Supply and Drainage b. Conventional Systems applying Water Saving Techniques

EWM technique of GEP

VRM technique of Huber Technology

Vertical flow constructed wetland

Surface water flow constructed wetland

Figure 3: Examples of some greywater treatment facilities


c. Water Saving, Greywater Recycling, and stormwater infiltration d. Ecological sanitation system including water saving techniques

conventional without

flush cistern with compos- vacuum ting toilets toilets separation toilets

toilet system water saving two differmeasure- ent amounts ment of water

water amount per flush (9 l) (9 l or 4 l) (0,2 l) (1 l)

(9 l or 0.2 l)

Figure 5: Schematic of different levels of water management


In case (a) conventional central water supply and drainage is shown that consumes a lot of water and produces a great amount of wastewater. In case (b) conventional systems applying water saving techniques could reduce water consumption and correspondingly wastewater amount. In case (c) water saving, greywater recycling, and stormwater infiltration are used that can reduce water consumption and correspondingly wastewater amount further. In case (d) Ecological sanitation system including water saving techniques and stormwater utilization are applied that can reduce water consumption and correspondingly wastewater amount to the most extend and also provide the good conditions for nutrient (N,P, etc) recycling. To separate these different wastewater flows, the types of toilets play an important role. With low- and non-water flushing toilets (e.g. composting toilet, vacuum toilet and separating toilet), freshwater consumption can be reduced dramatically. Also the volume of black water generation can be reduced to small volumes that ensure suitable conditions for further treatment. Table 1 shows comparison of water consumptions of different types of toilets. We can see that composting toilet, vacuum toilet and separating toilet can save a lot of water compared to water flush toilets. With low- and non-water flushing toilets (e.g. composting toilet, vacuum toilet and separating toilet), freshwater consumption can be reduced dramatically. Also the volume of black water generation can be reduced to small volumes that ensure suitable conditions for further treatment. Table 2 shows comparison of water consumptions of different types of toilets. We can see that composting toilet, vacuum toilet and separating toilet can save a lot of water compared to water flush toilets.

consumption (l/p*d)




For the treatment of different flows, there are many different combinations of treatment processes (low cost processes or compact high-tech treatment processes) according to the toilet types and local situation. In table 2 the possible treatment processes are listed. Because blackwater contains also pathogenic bacteria and pharmaceutical residues, the retention time in treatment processes must be sufficient to eliminate such substances. Yellow water and brown water can also be treated separately. Besides, the new technologies are also being developed recently. In above mentioned four systems, sustainable sanitation system integrated with rainwater utilization and water saving measures could achieve most sustainable water management. It has great potential of increasing in popularity in future. It should be mentioned that the development of new drainage concepts which is adapted to local situations need the cooperation of different experts working in different fields such as urban planers, hydraulic engineers, environmental engineers, geo-hydrologists and landscapers. 3 CONCLUSIONS

Conventional water supply, stormwater and wastewater practices have been practiced largely based on centralised collection, conveyance and treatment of water flows. Whilst highly effective, these methods can also have major drawbacks, such as insufficient use of water resources, environmental degradation, increasing infrastructure costs. By con-

trast, sustainable water and sanitation management system emphases on-site collection, treatment and utilisation of different kinds of water flows that is more attuned to natural environmental processes. China today is in a phase of rapid economic, social, and demographic transition. While poor sanitation is still a nationwide challenge, now there is a much stronger drive from the general public and a much better capacity for change in the field of water and sanitation management with a quickly raising middle class and a fast growing economy. Moreover, resource and environmental concerns are increasingly being emphasized in sanitation solutions as the nation is actively searching for alternative and sustainable paths of development. During this transition period, it is easier to change the conventional system into sustainable water and sanitation management system for new infrastructural construction. Therefore, it provides a good chance for China to transfer to sustainable water management system. It can play an important role in the urban environmental management. REFERENCES
[1] Li Z. and Jin F. (2001). Separate collection and treatment of domestic wastewater, China Water and Wastewater, 2001, Nr. 1 [2] Mustow S. et al (1997) : Water Conservation : Implications of using recycled greywater and stored rainwater in the UK, BSRIA Limited, ISBN: 086022466X [3] Geiger W. and Dreiseitl H. (2001). Neue Wege fuer Das Regenwasser, 2. Auflage, Oldenbourg [4] http://www.huber.de/products/membrane-bioreactormbr/huber-vrmr-bioreactor.html [5] Li, Zifu; Gajurel, Deepak Raj; Otterpohl, Ralf (2001). Development of Source Control Sanitation Systems in Germany. 1st International Conference on Ecological sanitation in Nanning, China, 5. - 9. Nov. 2001 [6] Arno Rosemarin, etc. (2006) China--Sweden Erdos Eco--town Project, Dong Sheng, Inner Mongolia, China,