The challenge of system change: an historical analysis of Sydney's sewer systems

Team D/E/S
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Design Philosophy Papers, 2009, 3/2009 pp. 1 - 14
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Despite the obvious health benefits of the sanitary revolution and construction of sewered systems, there are increasing doubts about the long term sustainability of centralised, water-based sanitation. Growing uncertainties such as rapid population growth, emergence of new pollutants, changing hydrological conditions in relation to climate change and global economic instability will require systems to be more open to `flexible and reflexive approaches1 in meeting future sanitation needs. The highly inflexible nature of existing sanitation systems burdened with over a century of capital infrastructure investment and assets that require 30-50 years to pay back, make centralised sanitation both economically unsustainable and institutionally rigid. Social practices associated with water borne sanitation have been embedded within western society for over a century making `radicalï½ system change and the introduction of alternative technologies and habits of practice challenging.
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