Resilience scenarios for integrated water systems (RIWS)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering


The resilience of water systems in the context of climate change, weather extremes, planning and operational decisions is crucial for water infrastructure service delivery and environmental management. In the UK, water systems are under extreme pressure from exceptional droughts like in the summer of 2022, or challenges to manage sewage spills. At the same time, the latest report on river water quality shows that only 14% of rivers in England meet good ecological status. Thus, there is a need to develop resilience assessments to address interlinked challenges of water systems and the environment. This project addresses a critical knowledge gap: What are resilience scenarios for integrated water systems (RIWS) that can be used to evaluate resilience metrics for various stressors, across system components and to inform adaptive planning? The development of RIWS will be supported by the novel Water System Integration Modelling Framework (WSIMOD) developed at the Imperial College London that will be integrated with the DAFNI platform. WSIMOD's flexibility in integrating numerous water system interactions (rural-urban, water supply-wastewater and flow-water quality) and representing a range of water management options with fast simulations times using primarily publicly available data outstand it as an ideal modelling tool for assessing the resilience of integrated water systems. Novel resilience metrics that combine concepts of a critical threshold in performance data with performance metrics evaluation will be informed by Greater London Authority, Thames and Affinity Water and Environment Agency's engagement through participatory workshops. Stressors will be defined as acute (e.g., component failure) and chronic (e.g., climate change) disruptions. The RIWS project aims to develop scenarios that can provide evidence for water companies, planning authorities and environmental regulators on the feasibility of water systems adaptive planning when assessed by resilience metrics, such as structural options (e.g., wastewater treatment plant upgrade) or coordinated operational decisions (e.g., water supply and wastewater systems information exchange to manage river water quality). The project directly contributes to the 'Building a secure and resilient world' strategy focus on 'adaptation to change and robust decision making' and place-based resilience of integrated rural-urban water systems.


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