Coevolving Water Sustainability in London

  • Tse-Hui Teh University College London


London’s water infrastructure has been developed over many centuries. It is a system of centralised water distribution and drainage that has formed the model for water infrastructure systems in cities around the world. However, this system is unsustainable: its incapacity to respond to the growth of populations and increasing water consumption per capita has led to the degradation of aquatic environments. A fresh approach is needed in order to identify urban water cycle solutions that can address these problems. This paper outlines an amalgamated theoretical framework – coevolutionary actor–network theory – and its use by the author to develop a methodology capable of formulating how London’s urban water cycle might coevolve towards sustainability in the future. This framework allows the tracing of relationships between human and nonhuman influences and environments that coalesce into large infrastructural systems. Two coevolutionary possibilities towards water sustainability were identified. One lay in diversifying types of water reuse; the other in multifarious forms of waste harvesting. The paper further contends that this theoretical approach and set of methods could also be applied to other infrastructure systems such as energy, waste, and air pollution.

How to Cite
Teh, Tse-Hui. 2015. “Coevolving Water Sustainability in London”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 14 (3), 721-34.