Reliable, resilient and sustainable water management: the Safe & SuRe approach
©2016 The Authors. Global Challenges published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Global threats such as climate change, population growth, and rapid urbanization pose a huge future challenge to water management, and, to ensure the ongoing reliability, resilience and sustainability of service provision, a paradigm shift is required. This paper presents an overarching framework that supports the development of strategies for reliable provision of services while explicitly addressing the need for greater resilience to emerging threats, leading to more sustainable solutions. The framework logically relates global threats, the water system (in its broadest sense), impacts on system performance, and social, economic, and environmental consequences. It identifies multiple opportunities for intervention, illustrating how mitigation, adaptation, coping, and learning each address different elements of the framework. This provides greater clarity to decision makers and will enable better informed choices to be made. The framework facilitates four types of analysis and evaluation to support the development of reliable, resilient, and sustainable solutions: “top-down,” “bottom-up,” “middle based,” and “circular” and provides a clear, visual representation of how/when each may be used. In particular, the potential benefits of a middle-based analysis, which focuses on system failure modes and their impacts and enables the effects of unknown threats to be accounted for, are highlighted. The disparate themes of reliability, resilience and sustainability are also logically integrated and their relationships explored in terms of properties and performance. Although these latter two terms are often conflated in resilience and sustainability metrics, the argument is made in this work that the performance of a reliable, resilient, or sustainable system must be distinguished from the properties that enable this performance to be achieved.
This work forms part of a 5-year fellowship for the first author funded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K006924/1) and supported by the Welsh Government, the Environment Agency, the Consumer Council for Water, the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network, the Water Industry Forum, Severn Trent Water, Northumbrian Water, Arup, Black & Veatch, Arcadis, and ACO Technologies.
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