According to the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Water Index, which assesses the water sustainability of 50 global cities by examining their water stewardship across issues impacting water resiliency, efficiency and quality to show which are best positioned to harness water for their long term success, Birmingham and Manchester came in at 9th and 10th place respectively.
Cities from 31 countries across all continents are ranked according to their natural risk and vulnerability across three pillars of water sustainability; resiliency, efficiency and quality, as well as how sustainably they manage and maintain water,
European cities dominate the overall rankings, taking seven of the top ten places. London was ranked in 21st place, behind Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Brussels. Birmingham is the UK’s highest ranked city overall in the Index.
The Sustainable Cities Water Index is produced by international consultancy Arcadis in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), and states that many of the cities have built up mature water systems up over a long period of time, often in response to challenges they previously faced with water. This includes cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, ranked in first and third place respectively, who both overcame major challenges like flooding in the last century.
According to the report, most European cities have a good quality of water via well-established drinking water supply, sanitation and wastewater treatment systems. The problem in some European cities like London, however, lies in the area of efficiency, which means that additional investment is needed.
The outlook in Asian countries is not that rosy, with Singapore (22nd), Seoul (23rd), Tokyo (26th) and Hong Kong (30th) being the highest ranked. New Delhi (50th) and Mumbai (49th) are right at the bottom due to poor sanitation and insufficient treatment of wastewater.
Latin American cities fall in the lower half of the Index, with Buenos Aires (33rd) and Rio de Janeiro (44th) both needing new investment to boost water quality, especially in wastewater treatment and sanitation.
Toronto (6th), Washington DC (13th) and New York (14th) perform well overall. Los Angeles ranks second for efficiency, and Chicago and Philadelphia rank second and third for quality.
African cities Johannesburg (45th) and Nairobi (46th) do well in resiliency due to geographic advantage but are kept back by poor water quality and inefficiency.
Efficient water systems and investment in desalination helped the Australian cities of Sydney (8th) and Melbourne (11th) to score well.