Water Sensitive Urban Design is a framework for the holistic management of the urban water cycle – the potable water supply, sewerage system and stormwater drainage system – and its integration into urban design. It is linked to the concepts of sustainable urban water management and integrated urban water management, which integrate social, environmental and economic aspects and emphasize resilient, equitable and regenerative approaches.
WS(U)D is an alternative systems-based approach to conventional urban water management. The concept represents a significant shift in the way water and related environmental resources and water infrastructure are considered in the planning and design of cities and towns, at all scales and densities.
In South Africa the term Water Sensitive Design is used to allow for a broader focus on the development of not only urban and peri-urban communities, but also those in rural environments.
WSD aims to minimise the hydrological impacts of urbanisation on the surrounding environment. The WSD water balance incorporates elements such as wastewater recycling, managed aquifer recharge, stormwater treatment and harvesting, and waterway naturalisation as means to mitigate the impacts of urbanisation and return to the natural water balance as much as possible.