The Urban Water Cycle

The urban water cycle details the long journey of a drop of water from when it is collected for use in an urban community to when it is returned to the natural water cycle. A reliable supply of fresh water is a requirement for any human community. In the middle ages, a water well was usually in the centre of every village. People collected water from the well and carried it to their houses in buckets or urns. The Romans built canals and used pipes to transport water into some buildings. They also built drains to carry away the wastewater. However, this was not widely practiced across the rest of the world for many centuries. Epidemics of diseases like typhoid and cholera were a particular result of poor sanitation or lack of access to clean water. In some countries these diseases still occur, largely related to low quality water supplies or sanitation in poor communities, or after natural catastrophes like a tsunami or earthquake.

During the Industrial Revolution humans learnt how to supply larger quantities of water to growing towns and cities. Modern medical and scientific knowledge has continued to help us to improve the provision of safe and clean water supplies and dispose of wastewater. These developments have led to the development of a man-made water cycle - the urban water cycle.

Click through to explore the Icon Water urban water cycle. Icon Water manages Canberra's drinking water cycle from storing our raw water through to returning our treated wastewater back to the environment.