Water and Energy Project

Projet - MS international (EnvIM) - mai 2010

Thinking the water in the city of tomorrow


Water is and will be a more and more critical issue. A lack of water as well as an excess of water can both cause disasters. Abundance of water is one thing, but the quality is another important issue that must be addressed. In parallel with this water question, rises the question of demography. The global population grows at an exponential rate and an increasing part of it is urban. In addition to classic water management, a specific urban water management must be thought of. As a result of this assessment emerged the idea of working on the water cycle in the city of tomorrow.

Présentation du projet


The Water & Energy Project (WEP) was a project shared by the EnvIM and ALEF advanced masters to work on a common base – water and energy in the city of tomorrow. The project required the collaboration between the two masters, focusing on:

  • Water management scenarios for the city of tomorrow and consequences on energy production (EnvIM).
  • Energy scenarios for the city of tomorrow, consequences on water consumption (ALEF).

Framework of the Water and Energy Project
The WEP is an innovative project to re-think the water management of a city, examining the environmental impacts at all stages of the water cycle. These impacts include:

  • energy consumption,
  • water resource availability,                        
  • the amount and type of waste, etc.

We intend to show that a sustainable approach to water management will inevitably take into account the interactions between these aspects. For example, the choice of resources has not only an impact on the energy needs for transportation and distribution, but also on biodiversity.

Objectives of the EnvIM students part

The main objective of this project was to have the students work in teams for the whole duration of their academic training. This teamwork was a good opportunity to learn from the others and to mix different cultural perspectives and different academic backgrounds. This was really an experience for them to carry on a project from cradle to grave, taking in charge all the different steps, from defining the limits of the study to the practical details.

The project started at the beginning of the program in October 2009 and was presented in a conference in Tsinghua University in Beijing in May 2010, where they introduced their new vision and perspectives on the water cycle in the city of tomorrow. They applied it to two cities: Cao Lanh in the Mekong delta in Vietnam and Beijing, the capital of China.


Next steps

Apart from this Conference in Tsinghua, other opportunities to present their work appeared, and largely contributed to orient their work. One of them is a workshop in Cao Lanh, Vietnam, where they were given the opportunity to present their project (Les Ateliers de Cergy). Another one might be the Shanghai World Expo.

Water cycle


Team Organization

Students were organized around 5 thematic approaches. To reach the final objective of building the “innovative water management of the city of tomorrow” conceptual scheme, many meetings and exchanges were necessary.

Water Use Efficiency: Water use efficiency aims to reduce the loss of water from distribution systems, implementing new techniques of recycling wastewater from one use to another while reducing the water demand.  They focused their study on three levels: domestic, agricultural and industrial consumptions.

Water Resources: Students focused on the different water resources that are available within cities (surface and ground water, rainwater, sea water, recycled water). Their job was to evaluate the capacity of distribution according to demand and uses. They tried to optimize and make major sustainable improvements in the management with a special focus on recycling and new technologies (harvesting, desalination, etc.).

Biodiversity: The biodiversity team designed a water cycle that fosters the optimal amount of biodiversity within the city. The wide scope of biodiversity was taken into account, including: micro biodiversity to the macro biodiversity. The ultimate goal was to create a cycle that requires the least amount of chemical treatments while still producing a quality product for both human consumption and the natural environment.  They intended to integrate various methods such as green roofs and walls for storm water management and improved water quality while creating and protecting indigenous habitats. 

Water and Waste: This group investigated the waste types produced from different wastewater sources (domestic sewage, industrial effluent, agricultural sewage, etc) and the possible impact on water quality and pollutants caused by these wastes. They also covered the impact of wastewater in dealing with waste treatment. They did in-depth case studies about new 'green' technologies and example cities and based on them, they intended to provide reasonable suggestions to the city to optimize its water treatment system and wastewater reutilization.  

Water Technologies and Energy Consumption: The different steps of the water supply chain can represent an important share of total urban energy consumption (up to 20%). Therefore, a sustainable urban water management should also optimize the energy consumption. This group aimed at: first, assessing the impact of each step of the water supply chain on the energy consumption; then, identifying the most relevant technologies regarding to optimize the energy consumption.


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Photo Credits : ISIGE MINES ParisTech
Text: ISIGE  - MINES ParisTech