chapter  1
Introduction
Pages 18

Water is crucial for life on earth. It is our most precious resource. In many parts of

the world, water scarcity causes immense hardship for human, animal and plant

life. The extent of these areas is steadily increasing (International Water Manage-

ment Institute 2000; Rijsberman 2005; UN Water, Food and Agriculture Organi-

zation of the United Nations 2007). The quality of water has been degrading

rapidly since the Industrial Revolution, a situation which has been accelerated by

the immense increase in population over the last 40 years (Albiac 2009; Carr and

Neary 2009; Nienhuis and Leuven 2001). In the Western world, concerns over

water extend beyond basic infrastructure to now address the preservation of eco-

systems and ecosystem services. With increasing urgency, urban development

professionals including architects, landscape architects, engineers and planners

are researching and implementing various methods to recycle, store and reuse

water, improve its quality, and protect or restore the natural resource base from

which it is extracted (Margulis and Chaouni 2011; Planning Institute Australia

What we do with water use (how much) and its management (quality, where

it ends up, and how fast it travels) at a local level always impacts a larger system,

which in turn, feeds back to the availability and quality of water in our cities. Of

the many forms that water takes, this book is concerned with urban stormwater

runoff. It examines the role and design of living roofs to mitigate runoff ’s envi-

ronmental and infrastructure impacts, while creating productive urban spaces.