Where you are in the Sustainable Community AHD process:

Communities and Sustainability

References for Water Pages
Quick Links
Back to the Enviroment Page


NC Virtual


Triangle Tomorrow















How to use this page:

This is the water and sustainability page. Water represents an attribute of environmental health (thus making it representative of a sub-attribute of sustainability in our model. This page is designed to firstly express the importance of water when examining environmental sustainability and secondly beginning the process to help you decide on a metric and weight for water and its indicators. This page is limited in the sense that it only examines water quality. From this page you should go to the water indicators page and examine how each indicator measures the water quality. At the top of every indicator page you will see which indicator you are at and can then go back to the water indicators page either using the quick links on the side bar or click on the Water & Sustainability link in the outline.

Why should water be considered as a factor of Environmental Sustainabilty and the Sustainability of a Community?

The provision of safe, plentiful and affordable water and sanitation services is both a necessity and a challenge that has occupied the minds of development experts since the implementation of public water systems. Assessing the sustainability of water for your community is complicated by several factors. First, water is a commodity that often is shared between different communities. If there is a water problem in one community, it may become a problem for other communities that partner in the provision of water (e.g. these other communities may need to begin to share a water supply to assist the affected community). Second, water systems are intricately involved in many other attributes of sustainability. If there is an insufficient amount of water, the cost of water could consequently rise and then there is an issue of social justice (since the poor are usually the ones most affected by rising water prices) and economic vitality (since more money is going towards water provision). Third, ff there is an inadequate water quality due to microbial or other contamination, human health could be affected. In assigning weights to the various attributes of water quantity and quality, therefore, you should recognize the complex links between these attributes and the others appearing on pages associated with health, economic vitality and social justice.

How does water play a role in sustainable communities?

In a sense, the concept of sustainability is quite simple. It refers to whether or not some aspect of the community continues to work over time at an acceptable level of service. For water service, this would mean that water continues to be available for the period for which it was designed, in the same quantity and at the same quality and the same cost as designed. If a person can turn the tap on over 15 or 20 years time and the water comes out at the same rate and quality, and at the same cost, as the day the system was commissioned, then it is a sustainable supply .

These attributes of sustainability for water supplies can be divided into three main components:

Each of these components would be considered sub-attributes of water and thus require individual examination to discover their presence as metrics.

The current web site considers only water quality in the counties of interest (those designated by Triangle Tomorrow). Future versions of this site will consider other counties in North Carolina and the other two attributes (Water Quantity and Cost of Water).

To navigate through the pages on Water Quality, use the links on the left side of this screen. If you are interested in seeing how specific indicators influence water sustainability, click the water indicators box or here (Note: I assume this is a hot link) and you will find a detailed explanation of how each of these indicators plays a role in water quality. You can then use the Analytical Hierarchy Process to examine how each of the indicators should be weighted and fitted into an algorithm when making a decision.

The next step:

Water Indicators



Author: Shawn Dayson Shifflett