Showing posts from 2015

Water management transition approaches

Climate change and population growth, in particular urban populations, are increasing pressure on water resources and the water environment. By 2050 86% of the population of OECD countries will be living in cities. There is an increasing recognition of the need for Integrated Water Management. This should be multi-disciplinary and ensure we are managing all aspects of water together (water quality, availability, flooding etc.) while delivering multiple benefits through planning and liveable cities. Many approaches were presented and discussed at the International Water Association's Efficient 2015 conference in April 2015.

The international Water Association is leading development an Urban Water Charter. This provides the opportunity to discuss some of these questions and ensure we join up water, planning and urban development for liveable and resilient cities. In the UK the Water Resources Planning Guideline currently out for consultation enables more flexible and risk based app…

COP21 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and Water

We are now heading towards the end of the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris. However, I thought this is still a good time to bring up the issue of water and climate change. Water is a key medium through which we feel the impacts of climate change but also a key driver through carbon emissions from treatment, use and disposal.
In 2014 I worked with several countries including Azerbaijan to consider water sector emissions in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These were designed by the UNFCCC to encourage countries to consider their domestic mitigation and adaptation measures and communicate these ahead of the conference (the figure below from the UNFCC portal show the progress of submissions to date).

This post outlines case-studies on water and climate change and provides a link to a work in progress document collating water sector actions in submitted INDCs.

Water sector INDCs - Azerbaijan Case StudyI was invited by the European Commission funded Cli…

Competition in the Water Sector: Financing the Fourth Generation of Water Infrastructure

Originally published on the Alliance for Water Efficiency Financing Sustainable Water Blog (19/10/15)
What if your building, home or office, was also a water company that could enable innovative decentralized water management approaches? In the UK and Australia, changes to the water competition regime are enabling new companies to provide water services at an individual building scale, for neighborhoods and towns or as strategic new supplies available for existing water companies. This post explains the approaches behind these at the building and neighborhood scale and outlines two case studies.
A fourth generation of water infrastructure has been identified by the Institute for Sustainable Futures Sydney as an emerging, efficient, decentralized, integrated and fit-for-purpose approach (Figure below). We have seen increasing costs from centralized options, including desalination and other drought resilient measures, that can no longer be afforded by utilities and local government in a U…

Learning from the US for Green Infrastructure delivery in the UK

Working in a company with over 40,000 employees around the world provides some interesting opportunities for collaboration. Following discussions with a few cities in the UK around water management and resilience I got in contact with the team delivering green infrastructure in the US.

I posed some of the questions from one city to Andrew Reese, who has been leading stormwater management work for 30 years in cities including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and others.

Questions on Green Infrastructure (GI) implementation in the USA
Are US cities driving GI/ SuDS programmes for flood risk management (rather than water quality as a side benefit of flood risk management)? Flood risk isn't really driving programmes in the US but is increasingly being seen as a benefit of programmes. Stormwater management and combined sewer overflows or CSOs are the main drivers linked to water quality. Green infrastructure is showing flood risk reduction benefits for retrofit rather than …

Planning for drought

The Environment Agency in England recently consulted on water company drought plan guidance. In the UK this framework is continually evolving and supported companies during the 2012 drought along with efforts to increase longer term resiliency. In this blog I comment on this guidance and ask how we can better integrate water resources planning and drought planning?

Long term planning Better integration is required between drought planning and water resources management plans. A real options analysis approach as part of water resources planning can support development of incremental measures to address the more extreme droughts that we expect with climate change. An example of this approach was presented for Sydney by Stuart White at the International Water Association Efficient 2015 conference (Figure below), whereby a significant costs saving would have arisen through planning for and not building a desalination plant. Similar approaches have already been applied in the UK such as the …

What can we learn from the Isle of Eigg for water?

The Isle of Eigg in Scotland is a world first example of combining wind, solar and hydropower with energy storage in one system to enable 90% renewable energy supply to the island. However, it isn't just about the technology, it is the ownership and governance along with changing behaviours that have enabled this innovative low carbon approach. After hearing about this scheme through a BBC Costing the Earth Podcast I have outlined these further and consider the implications for integrated water management below.

Isle of Eigg
Progress in community renewable energy and the use of decentralised approaches is rapidly enabling some areas to go off grid and bringing benefits to those areas that are too expensive to serve.

There are several features which make the Eigg scheme unique and are the reasons why this has been an international case study for researchers. These include:

First scheme to combine hydro, wind, solar and energy storage in one systemThe community owns the island and ow…

Water in Future Cities

"Thinking long term" and "blue and green cities" were some of the concepts discussed at the UK Water Partnership RCUK event Future Visions for Water and Cities 30 June 2015 in London.

It was great to see so much enthusiasm for new approaches to sustainable water management and the event was very well attended throughout the day. The use of breakout groups and workshops for the second half of the day helped add to the debate and motivate those attending. The day was billed as the "Great Think" and an opportunity to address water management issues for cities in the UK and internationally.

From the "Great Stink" to the "Great Think"
A summary of the report launched at the event is available on the future of cities blog and below is my summary of the day. A few key issues this workshop raised for me included:
Where are the people? Citizens were not explicitly included in some of the future city visions and how these would be achieved.Is wa…