AP Pucher, SN Niederer

University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research, Vienna Austria



Despite the many natural constraints preventing the access to freshwater, it is clear that effective water management can prevent or relieve many problems caused by water pollution and scarcity. With only about 5 per cent of the sewage produced worldwide biologically treated, and about 40 per cent of the freshwater consumption worldwide used for the crop irrigation the proliferation of affordable water management and wastewater treatment is of prime importance. In contrast to conventional sewage treatment based on flush-and-discharge systems, Sustainable Water Management represents a value added and affordable alternative.


The project Sustainable Concepts towards a Zero Outflow Municipality (Zer0-M) within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership aims at the development of concepts and technologies for the achievement of optimised close-loop usage of all water flows in small municipalities and settlements not connected to a central wastewater treatment. One major task of the Zer0-M project is the development of a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) in order to contribute to the dissemination of the Sustainable Water Management (SWM) approach. The aim is to provide experts and technicians with a tool that helps them to develop and compare multiple SWM solutions for an existing problem. Thus, it is helping them to choose the optimum solution according to clearly defined criteria. Geoinformation and cartography can highly contribute to these processes.


In the beginning, the existing problems have to be identified and specified. Tools for visual and exploratory data analysis are provided and are helping the user to achieve a more holistic view of the situation and possible solutions. However, thematic and geographic information has to be acquired beforehand in order to be evaluated by the user. Based on all gathered information, the user can develop possible solutions to the problems identified in the beginning. Central point for their development in the SDSS is the interactive map. Alternatives are designed using functionalities of a GIS supporting the development of the layout and attribute information describing all elements.


Besides computer-screen output, high quality printed output in form of maps, figure and result tables have proven to be very beneficial, especially in those areas, where computers usage is still of little importance.


The paper presents the results of a three year planning and implementation process and shows the advantages of an approach, utilizing geoinformation and cartography to achieve sustainable solutions.