Water Journal : Water Journal September 2011
feature article However, reduced water availability is not the only aspect of climate change threatening security of water supply. Many existing risks are expected to become more prevalent with climate change, including risks to infrastructure through changes in climate extreme-event patterns and gradual changes. For instance, sea level rise, flooding, or an increase in high-risk bushfire weather could have serious impacts on the assets of large water utilities such as Melbourne Water or Sydney Water. These risks vary greatly across regions and specific assessments are required to understand the changes in risk profiles, which can underpin future management and ultimately influence water pricing. It should be noted that many water utilities have already undertaken or initiated some form of climate change-adjusted risk assessment, ranging from broad risk-scoping exercises to implementation of detailed adaptation strategies. The long-term pressures of climate change and uncertainty in relation to future Government policy makes the process of risk assessment now even more critical in ensuring long-term water security and customer service reliability. Conclusion Australia will soon be facing a $23/tonne price on carbon, representing one of the largest economic reforms Australia has seen for decades, and is something into which the water industry must invest strategic and practical resources. The direct implication of the Scheme on industry is difficult to quantify, but it is certain to pose direct and indirect impacts on the broader water industry in Australia. It is clear that water businesses must investigate and plan for the potential risks and opportunities now, to avoid being exposed further down the track. The strategic and unbiased assessment of risks is critical to support the decision making within any private or public organisation. One of the most significant risks businesses face today is related to the uncertainty of climate change. Assessing and understanding the associated climate risks and opportunities, both holistically and as a result of the carbon price, is critical to long-term strategic water planning for any water organisation. Consideration of the impact of climate change, and extreme events such as floods and bushfires, on catchments and infrastructure should be a key component of this assessment. Further to a climate-adjusted risk assessment, the water industry should aim to improve operational efficiency and reduce energy consumption in the water and wastewater treatment and conveyance areas, to reduce the indirect impacts and resulting additional costs imposed by the Government under the Scheme. There is demand for greater efficiency within our society and among customers across most industries, including the water industry -- this is the definitive moment for the water and wastewater industries and is an opportunity to show leadership. The Authors The authors are all active participants of the Climate Change Working Group of the AWA Sustainability Specialist Network and have collaborated to prepare this article. Sejla Alimanovic is an Environmental Engineer at CH2M HILL Australia Pty Ltd; Kate Simmonds is the ANZ Region Sustainability Coordinator at CH2M HILL Australia Pty Ltd; Brad Henderson is a Project Manager at Wannon Region Water Corporation; and Adam Fearnley is Associate Director -- Water and Infrastructure Services, AECOM.
Water Journal November 2011
Water Journal August 2011