My round up of the IWA World Water Congress

The beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal, provided the perfect backdrop for my first International Water Association World Water Congress. Over 5,000 delegates attended from all around the world marking this important event for networking, dissemination and progressing towards sustainable water management goals.

Keynote presentation and workshops covered a broad range of topics, however it was the specialist group meetings where the real networking and decision making behind the future work programmes for IWA took place.

IWA Efficient Urban Water Management Specialist Group Meetings

I attended the IWA EUWM Specialist Group meetings and was voted on to the management committee. The key upcoming event is the IWA conference on Water Efficiency and Performance Assessment of Water services, to be held in Cincinnati USA April 20-24 2015. Abstract deadline extended until November 15th.

I will be leading a specialist group project and below is a call for input on the steering group:

Strategic Project - Water efficiency case studies to support performance indicator development
Water efficiency measures have increasingly been applied and researched globally, however to date there hasn't been a comprehensive collation or analysis of these programmes. The EUWM SG is planning to develop an understanding of best practice in water use efficiency to support indicators for comparison between water utilities, states, and counties (similar to the Infrastructure Leakage Index). A baseline is first required to understand the state of water efficiency activities, targets and impacts on consumption internationally.

Young Water Professionals (aged below 35) represent around 25% of the specialist group membership. We are aiming to increase participation of this group by encouraging contributions as part of this strategic assessment. There is now an opportunity to get involved with the steering group for this project – we are looking for IWA YWPs from across the regions to participate. By getting involved you will gain experience in developing and delivering a strategic research project, get access to experts and mentors in the EUWM SG and demonstrate continuing professional development. This will also support your case to attend the IWA Efficient 2015 conference where we will discuss the outputs and how they can lead to performance indicators.

For more information and to get involved go to or contact Aaron Burton 

Cities of the future - transitioning to the 2050s

The cities of the future programme focussed on resilience and sustainability as integral to the water sensitive infrastructure of the future. Paul Brown from California provided an overview from the beginning of the cities of the future programme in 2006 to systems approaches, One Water approaches, and treating urban landscapes like natural systems. The 2014 drought in California highlights issues of extreme complexity and extreme uncertainty that need to be addressed in water planning.

Steve Moddemeyer from Seattle presented the opportunities considering we are constantly building and rebuilding cities every year. The approach of nested semi autonomous districts for water management (from building to neighbourhood and city) fits more with the resilience of natural systems and can be a way of transitioning our cities towards a mix of centalised and decrentalised solutions.

Rob Skinner from the Centre from the Water for Liveability Centre at Monash University presented the water sensitive cities approaches being applied in Melbourne. Their vision is for sustainable, resilient and liveable cities.  Liveability is increasingly being utilised as a term for cities of the future and Rob discussed how it relates to existence, relatedness and growth. There is still a need for structural measures such as desalination or green infrastructure, however behaviour change is also required as demonstrated by the reduction in water use during drought years in Melbourne. He concluded that to address the 'wicked' problem of water management we need drynamic assessment of options, a new economic evaluation framework, and the right institutional governance and cultural pre-conditions.

As a conclusion from this session we need to plan differently in order to transition to the 2050s and provide resilient and liveable cities to live in. A range of approaches exist to address uncertainty and risk. 

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 is considering alternative approaches to water planning and taking a city scale approach can mean more to water customers than whole regions. There is also a need to consider wider socio-economic scenarios in order to develop effective policy options - and example is application to water demand in 2050 from the food and drink manufacturing sector.

Fado and gala dinner - culture of Lisbon and networking

Lisbon also provided an excellent scene for cultural exchange and networking across the International Water Association. The Efficient Urban Water Management Specialist Group attended an evening of fado music and the gala dinner was set in what used to be a convent in Lisbon. A few photos below.


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