Mahua Bhattacharya (United Kingdom) 1; David Viner (United Kingdom) 1
1 - Mott MacDonald
Major climate change impacts are associated with the hydrological cycle (sea level rise, droughts, storm events). The need for climate resilient water supply and sanitation (WSS) infrastructure is therefore essential, particularly in rapidly urbanizing areas. The objective of this study was to identify viable, proven climate resilience practices adopted by WSS service providers both in developed and developing countries. This evidence base will support decision makers and WSS service providers in less-developed countries, which are at most risk from climate change.
Twenty case studies were investigated through literature reviews and interviews, selected to include utilities that had implemented resilience measures and to reflect geographic diversity. The interview questionnaire captured utility practices along the WSS delivery chain (from source to disposal). This method comprehensively highlighted key areas of climate-related risks and challenges, resilience-building initiatives, and enabling/constraining factors. Six case studies were selected for deeper investigation of how utilities are integrating climate science into decision-making, operation and maintenance of assets. This was done through detailed interviews with multiple key decision-makers in each utility. The in-depth case studies were selected based on indication of innovative practices during preliminary data collection, and to retain a balance of developed and developing country utilities.
Findings from the case studies were analyzed to identify key influences and drivers, critical success factors, and good practices. Six critical success factors were considered: Planning of Investments, Operationalization of Service Delivery, Monitoring, User Behavior, Enabling Sector Policies, and Coordination with Broader Water Security. Practices were also analyzed by climate change risk scenario, including sea level rise, increased drought, increased precipitation, and storm surges.
Based on evidence from the case studies, the study identified and defined key characteristics of a resilient WSS service provider, including robustness, reflectiveness, inclusivity, and awareness of context. Major observations were also put forward for policy makers and planners, WSS utility managers, project financiers, and the wider research committee engaged in this sector.