Environment

New report details water management good practices

14/07/2016
New report details water management good practices

A European Commission-funded project has published a guide for city planners on how to tackle the four main water management issues that urban areas face: flooding, water scarcity, water conservation and water quality.

The report, from the POWER project, analyses best practices in each of these areas through the experiences of four pilot cities: Leicester, Milton Keynes, Jerusalem and Sabadell.  POWER (Political and sOcial awareness on Water EnviRonmental challenges) is a Horizon 2020 research project that started in December 2015 and will run until November 2019, with a budget of €3.75 million and partners from Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

The city of Leicester (United Kingdom) provides the case study for the management of flood risk, while Milton Keynes (also in the UK) offers its experience in water scarcity mitigation measures.

Regarding the water conservation case study, the project looked at Jerusalem in Israel. Jerusalem faces a semi-arid climate and has pioneered innovative technologies in combination with customer relationship management to conserve water to the greatest extent possible. For example, customers' water usage patterns are monitored on an individual level, and unusually high water consumption can result in notification to a customer of a potential water leak. In multicultural urban areas, this customer relationship management, whether by phone or online, is provided in the relevant languages.

The case study from Sabadell, in north-eastern Spain, covers water quality monitoring and shows the increasing role of technology in water management. For example, ever-greater use of sensors is being made to check water quality and quantity, and customers can be notified of supply problems via SMS or email alerts. Sabadell also has a mobile app for booking appointments with water engineers and for leak notifications, which are sent immediately to operational teams who can rapidly carry out repairs.

The report concludes with some core lessons for water managers:

  • There needs to be cooperation between agencies, companies and different levels of administration to manage water most effectively; this cooperation also needs to engage and educate consumers on water saving practices.
  • Costs of inaction are high, but investments to improve water systems can be substantial and need to be made with a long-term perspective that takes into account increasing pressures from climate change.
  • The technologies for significant improvements in water management already exist, but local contexts have to be taken into account when implementing them; cities can learn by having access to a wide range of good practice examples.
  • One issue not covered by the report but significant for a large number of cities is coastal flooding, which can result in inundation by saline water. This is an issue of particular concern in the context of rising sea levels.

The report argues that early action should be taken because trends such as rising urbanisation, climate change and inadequate maintenance of infrastructure “may overwhelm the resilience of cities”.

Further information: http://www.power-h2020.eu

Case studies report: http://www.power-h2020.eu/wp-content/uploads/D3.1-Report-on-best-practices-in-water-management-for-all-4-use-cases.pdf