Cities across the globe are making the decision to become “water sensitive” as a result of the ever-increasing pressures of a growing population and the climate change that come with it. The water sensitive cities model attempts to combat challenges such as droughts, floods, food insecurity related to water access, and even contamination via agricultural runoff and stormwater management practices. 

Steps taken by water sensitive city, Kunshan, China, have included the use of native plants as a means to purify rain water. The strategy has been particularly helpful in this region of China due to its low-lying location and subsequent susceptibility to flooding. The initiative has not only increased eco-tourism in the city, but has also helped mitigate the issue of water contamination by pesticides, agricultural runoff, and other pollutants. 

Kunshan’s low-lying location means frequent flooding. Using this to its advantage, the city created an ecological wetland to recirculate water and remove contaminants in the process. Of course, these wetlands also give floodwater somewhere to go and increase even more to eco-tourism in the city. Forbes has called this city the poster child for water sensitive cities–this is with very good reason.

One of the main focuses of Kunshan’s take on the water sensitive cities model is with contaminants in water. As the city has addressed this challenge with the above mentioned strategies and several others, it has simultaneously addressed many other challenges, such as flooding, the urban heat island effect, struggles to increase biodiversity, and even challenges with the economy. With nearly 50 projected created to improve urban water management, the city has created hundreds of jobs. 

When humanity takes care of the planet, the planet returns the favor and takes care of humanity. Cities across the globe should take note of Kunshan, China’s progress as a water sensitive city and follow suit. With plastic, sewage, and many other kinds of waste in the world’s water supply, time is running out to reverse the effects of this pollution and provide enough clean water for a quickly growing population. There is no chance that the effects of water contamination will be reversed without quick action taken. Kunshan, China has set the example, and it’s time for others to follow their lead.