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Benchmarking Adelaide in our journey towards a water sensitive city

July 12, 2017

The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) is working with Adelaide’s water industry leaders to develop a transition strategy for Adelaide to become a water sensitive city.  To date Adelaide’s performance in our transition to a water sensitive city has been benchmarked using the WSC Index Tool, recognising our leadership and smart investment in alternative water systems, while revealing priority areas for action that will require collaborative efforts to realise our vision for a water sensitive Adelaide.

What is a water sensitive city?

Water sensitive cities (WSCs) are resilient, liveable, productive and sustainable. They interact with the urban hydrological cycle in ways that: provide water security for economic prosperity through efficient use of diverse water resources; enhance and protect the health of watercourses and wetlands; mitigate flood risk and damage; and create public spaces that harvest, clean and recycle water. Its strategies and systems for water management contribute to biodiversity, community health and wellbeing, carbon sequestration and reduction of urban heat island effects.

Figure 1. Urban Water Transition Framework (Brown et al., 2009)

Benchmarking Adelaide

In the first of a three-workshop series, Greater Adelaide’s performance across the 7 goals and 34 indicators of the WSC Index Tool was assessed by nearly 30 experts from Adelaide’s water and environment, planning and development sectors.   The benchmark of Adelaide’s current performance in our transition to a water sensitive city reinforces our strengths as leaders in adaptive water infrastructure via our extensive stormwater harvesting and re-use and recycled wastewater equity of essential services of water supply and sanitation, as indicated in Figure 2 below.

The process did however expose the need for greater efforts to :

  • Ensure quality urban space
  • Improve ecological health
  • Ensure good governance, and
  • Increase community capital
   
Figure 2. Greater Adelaide (shaded blue) compared against the ideal Water Cycle City (brown dashed line) Figure 3. Summary of Adelaide’s performance against the ideal measures for each city state.

Next Steps

A clear vision for Adelaide that highlights how water can be central to making Adelaide a more resilient, attractive and prosperous city has been articulated by SA urban water leaders, and a set of priority objectives to build on the strengths of Adelaide’s water sector and overcome key transition barriers identified.  A draft Water Sensitive City Transition Plan for Adelaide detailing this vision and associated strategies is currently being finalised by CRCWSC for release in coming months.

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