From water scarcity and climate extremes to resource fragmentation, there are more water-related issues to manage than ever before. For those who manage urban water systems, like city planners and utility managers, it’s difficult to decide which challenges to tackle first to provide the most benefits.
To add, the world’s water-related needs are ever-evolving, and hydrological systems are not static. This means adapting water management styles and adopting new methods. But where do we start?
- Apply an integrated urban water management approach
Our world’s natural and man-made water systems are inherently interconnected. For example, our collection systems are connected to our rivers and are affected by natural disasters, like flooding. Yet, many still view and manage these systems in silos. Such fragmentation does not consider the full range of interactions between these systems.
An integrated urban water management (IUWM) approach considers the urban water cycle as a single integrated system in which all water sources and systems are inclusively and jointly managed. The IUWM approach forces us to revaluate our relationships to water systems and their relationships to one another. Using an integrated perspective, these systems and their issues can be managed more holistically.
- Invest in smart technologies
With all the water and water infrastructure-related data out there to analyse, investing in smart tools can help you make the right decisions quicker. Advanced water management technologies can efficiently collect, combine and analyse complex data from a variety of different sources in real-time. This is invaluable when making decisions in emergency situations.
Not to mention, these technologies can help to prepare systems analyses and real-time forecasts to prevent or mitigate the effects of potential disruptions or disasters.
However, not all water modelling tools should be treated equally. To get the most value from customised analyses of your water systems, choose technologies that are scalable to analyse inevitable future developments. For example, check out the scalable analytical abilities of MIKE+, an integrated water modelling platform.
- Prioritise water system investments using data
It’s a must to know which water system investments should be prioritised. Using your data and transforming it into knowledge you can model and simulate different interventions and compare their effects. For example, you can determine which low-impact development (LIDs) interventions are most worthy of pursuing in the short- and long-term and which will provide the most return on investment.
Certain tools use your data to simulate future scenarios related to climate change and natural disasters to better understand your water system’s specific tipping points. With that information, you can carry out cost analyses, prepare emergency management plans and confidently decide which infrastructure is most needed for your water system’s resilience.
The final word on advancing urban water management
If you’re an urban water sector leader, you play a critical role in protecting public health and the environment. Balancing multiple priorities and relationships, your job requires you to address and solve complex water challenges.
Using an integrated approach and smart technology that helps you make intelligent, data-based decisions is the key to better urban water management. By focusing on enhancing the ways we manage water, we can strengthen both local and global water security.