IWA Publishing

The urban stormwater farm

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Currently more than 3 billion people live in urban areas. The urban population is predicted to increase by a further 3 billion by 2,050. Rising oil prices, unreliable rainfall and natural disasters have all contributed to a rise in global food prices. Food security is becoming an increasingly important issue for many nations. There is also a growing awareness of both ‘food miles’ and ‘virtual water’. Food miles and virtual water are concepts that describe the amount of embodied energy and water that is inherent in the food and other goods we consume. Growing urban agglomerations have been widely shown to consume vast quantities of energy and water whilst emitting harmful quantities of wastewater and stormwater runoff through the creation of massive impervious areas. In this paper it is proposed that there is an efficient way of simultaneously addressing the problems of food security, carbon emissions and stormwater pollution. Through a case study we demonstrate how it is possible to harvest and store stormwater from densely populated urban areas and use it to produce food at relatively low costs. This reduces food miles (carbon emissions) and virtual water consumption and serves to highlight the need for more sustainable land-use planning.

Keywords: urban, food security, stormwater harvesting, food miles, virtual water, sustainable land-use

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