What is missing from urban water resources management projects?

Posted 8 May 2017

Ozwater'17 articles
Water resources management that promotes liveability is often a positive by-product of urban projects, but it should be standard practice, says NSW Young Water Professional of the Year Shona Fitzgerald. 
The Sydney Water process engineer argued that this transition could be facilitated by benchmarking and quantifying the value of water solutions that enhance liveability.

“Although we have a lot of past examples of urban water resources management that promotes liveability, these projects are largely opportunistic and not necessarily strategic and prioritised,” Fitzgerald said. 

“I think the industry is wanting to be more customer-centric and part of that is about creating water, wastewater and stormwater services that make our cities a place where people want to live, and places that promote health and wellbeing.

“To do this we need to be able to quantify what those liveability benefits are so we can justify them in how we fund our projects and make sure they're not just an added bonus.”

To demonstrate the value of this approach, Fitzgerald and colleagues from Sydney Water examined the Cup and Saucer Wetland, a small-scale, retrofit WSUD project in Sydney.

They used the WSAA menu of Liveability Indicators and the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities' Transition Dynamics Framework to assess the project. 

Fitzgerald will discuss the findings in relation to these indicators when she presents the resultant technical paper at the upcoming Ozwater'17 conference in Sydney. 

According to the paper, the liveability indicators can be used to set targets and measure outcomes for similar future WSUD projects. 

“In addition to setting goals at a project level, the narrative and outcomes of the Cup and Saucer Wetland project show the project’s contribution to transitioning to a more water-sensitive-city state,” the paper stated. 

“The gaps identified in this transition included establishing formalised bridging organisations and ensuring water sensitivity is standard practice for all future projects.”

Fitzgerald said the transition to embedding water sensitive practices can be facilitated by taking four key steps:

1. Ensuring institutional commitment.
2. Benchmarking a city’s state of urban water resources management and setting a common vision for the future state.
3. Using the transition framework to identify key gaps in the stages of transformation to set strategic goals.
4. Using relevant indicators to better understand the full economic and non-monetary costs, as well as the benefits of the applied water solutions.

Want to learn more about water sensitive urban design and how the water industry contributes to cities of the future? The Ozwater’17 conference will have several sessions aimed at answering that question. To learn more and to register, click here