Sewers, Ponds, and Gardens: Technology and the Politics of Circular Water Flow in Los Angeles

Valentin Ulrich Meilinger

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


Climate change and ongoing urban growth intensify water scarcity, flooding, and water pollution in cities worldwide. To tackle these challenges, cities have widely endorsed urban water circularity as a new paradigm for infrastructure development that enables more circular water flows. Sewers, Ponds, and Gardens draws on a case study of Los Angeles, California, to explain shifting constellations of urban water and wastewater infrastructures in the context of growing water challenges and proliferating ideas of circularity. The study shows how attempts to realize urban water circularity through infrastructure renewal produce novel, power and value-laden arrangements of governing urban nature and space. Conceptually, the study draws from debates in urban political ecology, science and technology studies, and studies on urban infrastructures. Its analysis of the political power constituted by technology emphasizes the instability of different technological cultures of urban nature through which urban environments become known and governed. Ultimately, the study highlights avenues for rethinking institutions, actor roles, as well as knowledge and values in water governance to overcome contemporary urban water challenges.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Monstadt, Jochen, Primary supervisor
  • Rutherford, Jonathan, Co-supervisor, External person
Award date10 Jul 2023
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-90-6266-656-0
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


  • urban infrastructure
  • Los Angeles
  • circular city
  • technopolitics
  • urban nature
  • water
  • stormwater
  • wastewatere recycling
  • urban gardens
  • climate change


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