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The Urban Water Blueprint Report

August 2016

The Nature Conservancy’s Urban Water Blueprint examines the state of water in more than 500 cities around the world. Our research reveals that there’s an enormous potential for nature to improve water quality for cities. In fact, cities could potentially save $890 million a year in water treatment costs by investing in nature-based solutions in their watersheds such as riverbank restoration and reforestation. City and utility leaders who embrace both natural and engineered water infrastructure will not only meet future water demand; they will reshape our planet’s landscape for the better.

Since the release of our initial report, we expanded our research at the regional level.

  • The Sub-Saharan Africa's Urban Water Blueprint assessed the potential for watershed conservation to benefit cities, rural livelihoods and nature across 30 large cities in Sub-Saharan Africa that are primarily dependent on surface water supply. One in every five residents of these cities may face water security risks due to highly impaired water quality. The report found that 28 cities could improve their water security by investing in conservation activities such as forest protection and good farming practices, which could benefit more than 80 million people. For half of the 30 cities, the resulting benefits for improved water quality could offset the costs of conservation activities through reduced water treatment expenses. What’s more, the source watersheds for 13 cities also overlap with some of TNC's highest priority areas for wildlife habitat. Click here to read the report or learn more about water funds in Africa.
  • The China Urban Water Blueprint analyzes the state of the 135 surface water sources tapped by the country’s 30 largest and fastest growing cities. The findings reveal less than 6 percent of China’s land mass provides more than two-thirds of the country’s water supply, mostly from small and medium-sized catchments. If conservation strategies—such as reforestation and improved agricultural practices—are applied to a cumulative area of roughly 1.4 million hectares, sediment and nutrient pollution could be measurably reduced—by at least 10 percent. In turn, more than 150 million people in these cities could see improved water quality. Click here to read the report.
The Urban Water Blueprint analyzes the state of water in cities around the world and provides recommendations for natural solutions to improve water quality.
The Urban Water Blueprint analyzes the state of water in cities around the world and provides recommendations for natural solutions to improve water quality.