Urban water systems are under increased pressure from ongoing developments like climate change, population growth and urbanization. While it is clear that current urban water challenges need a more integrated approach, practitioners disagree on what such an integrated approach means exactly. Integration could therefore be described as a wicked problem, with practitioners having different understandings of integration, as well as the opportunities and challenges they should focus on; e.g., climate adaptation, resource recovery or collective replacement. This lack of consensus challenges decision-making, and thus the implementation of integration. To foster urban water systems integration, this study uses Q methodology to explore the different perspectives that Dutch urban water practitioners have on integration for future urban water systems. Our analysis reveals four salient perspectives: perspective 1 sees coordination as a means to make the system future-proof, perspective 2 focuses on climate adaptation, perspective 3 aims for recovery, and perspective 4 is all about efficiency and being in control. While all perspectives acknowledge that traditional urban water practices need to change, they differ on which sustainability challenges are considered most important and what means should be used. Practitioners need to understand these differences to deal effectively with the wicked nature of integration.
- Integrated urban water management
- Q methodology
- Systems integration
- Water governance