Dominant perspectives and the shape of urban stormwater futures

Ines Winz*, Gary Brierley, Sam Trowsdale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive mapping is used to elicit perspectives on stormwater problems and solutions in West Auckland, New Zealand. In-depth interviews with key stakeholders reveal three dominant perspectives that underlie contemporary approaches to stormwater management: conventional fixes, low impact solutions and community development. Analysis confirms that these perspectives are diverse and partially conflicting. Traditional engineering approaches to managing urban stormwater generate feedback loops that necessitate continued construction of infrastructure to the detriment of environmental systems. Low impact solutions are environmentally sensitive, but they do not break this feedback loop. Community development could reduce the need for more urban stormwater infrastructure in the long-term but it does not address current adverse impacts of urban growth. Analysis suggests that none of the perspectives in themselves will lead to sustainable outcomes. Rather, the transition to a water-sensitive future requires understanding of and engagement with these diverse perspectives in efforts to establish more integrated social-ecological outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-349
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Water Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive mapping
  • low impact development
  • Project Twin Streams
  • systems thinking
  • urban stormwater management


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