Climate variability and change is disrupting the water cycle. Changing weather and water patterns are driving global water scarcity, and increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which has impacts across scales. Resilience is more than implementing the right technology or practice to assess and address risks of extreme events. It is an approach that should be part of a coherent and holistic strategy to ensure sustainable water resources and safe and secure water supply.
Resilience needs to be built and coordinated at the basin, city and utility level to ensure adaptation measures for water systems are effective and integrate with other urban services. With the aim of empowering professionals working at the utility, city or basin level to be at the forefront of climate smart water management, IWA offers the latest knowledge, resources and tools developed, co-designed and tested in collaboration with different end-users.
Carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. Changes in our climate are changes in water, as these greenhouse gases are directly impacting the availability and quality of both source and receiving waters. The water industry is a prime victim in bearing the impacts of climate change, but it is also a source of global carbon emissions from energy consumption, as well as process emissions from nitrous oxides and methane emissions in wastewater systems. The water sector can therefore contribute its share to meeting the internationally agreed target of below 2°C rise in global temperature.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Water Association (IWA) have been working together with their partners from Mexico, Peru, Jordan and Thailand on the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation project (WaCCliM). The aim has been to use GHG emission-reducing technologies to improve the carbon balance of water and wastewater companies while maintaining or even improving service levels and improving these companies cost effectiveness.
Low-carbon, low-energy solutions in the water sector make economic sense. Utilities can now be guided towards water and energy efficiency, as well as mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility and a website with all a utility needs to successfully transition to a low-carbon urban water utility.
The Roadmap guides utilities to:
IWA members have established a group on Low Energy Low-Carbon Utilities. Join the group and participate in discussions on IWA-Connect.
Climate change is altering weather and water patterns around the world; causing more frequent and damaging floods and/or water shortages leading to droughts. With increasing climate variability and change, water users and practitioners striving to become more resilient in their practices, need to prepare for such water-related risks by integrating scientifically sound climate information and risk assessments to respond to changing demands and climatic conditions.
Water professionals need tools that allow them to integrate climate information and risks into planning. The Flood and Drought Management Tools (FDMT) project developed the Flood and Drought Portal which has technical applications to integrate better information on floods and droughts into planning from catchment to tap. DHI, a member of the International Water Association (IWA), has developed the portal as part of the project, which is in partnership with IWA. The portal and its tools are available to IWA members, including water resource organisations and water utilities. Find out more here.
Managing all aspects of the water supply system from water source to treatment to distribution, even components where the utility has no control, can be through Water Safety Planning (WSP), a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach that encompasses all steps and stakeholders of the water supply system from catchment to consumer. WSPs are cited by WHO as an effective means of consistently ensuring the safety and acceptability of a drinking-water supply. WHO and IWA are working together to promote WSPs, learn more on the Water Safety Portal.
WSPs are an entry point to prompt utilities to consider climate information and the risks of floods and droughts in their planning procedures. Through support from the OPEC Fund for International Development, IWA is working on a project “Climate Resilient Water Safety Planning to Improve Water Supply and Public Health”. The project is addressing how utilities through WSP can better prepare and respond to extreme weather events; as well as undertaking strategic awareness approaches to involve key ministries in supporting the institutionalisation of WSP within countries.
IWA and partners have been running a webinar series on climate smart utilities to showcase what utilities are doing to address climate change both from a mitigation and adaptation approach.