Towards useful sustainable development indicators for urban water systems: case study at a German water company
Paper i proceeding, 2004

The functions of the urban water systems to deliver drinking water to the population and relieve it of wastewater, need to meet the demands of sustainable development to be ensured over time. Sustainable development indicators (SDIs) are generally recommended to support decision-making at different levels. There are, however, few examples of successful implementation of SDIs. This is also true for SDI projects applied specifically to the water industry. The goal of this study was to analyse the existing information flows and information needs in a German water company in order to enable the formulation of a specification of requirements for effective and efficient SDIs. The case study shows that the company considers sustainability issues to be of high importance and that it has succeeded well in finding general acceptance for the values of sustainable development among its employees. There are indicators for measuring aspects of all three dimensions of sustainability, although these indicators are not termed SDIs. Employees are generally positive to “sustainability”, although their understanding of the concept, as defined by WCED, is often incomplete. The combination of a bottom-up and top-down approach applied at BWV in their present indicator programs appears to be useful in the construction of SDIs and the information system they form an integral part of (whether termed SDIs or not).

drinking water supply

urban water systems

sustainable development indicators


Ulrika Palme

Chalmers, COMESA, Miljösystemanalys

Chalmers, Göteborgs miljövetenskapliga centrum (GMV)

Oliver Mayer-Spohn

4th IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition, Marrakech, 19-24 September


Annan naturresursteknik