Knowledge base

Responding To Climate Change Challenges Facing The Water And Wastewater Industry

Changing climate patterns have the potential to significantly impact the way in which Watercare Services Limited (Watercare), delivers reliable, safe, and efficient water and wastewater services. To address this, Watercare (an Auckland Council CCO) is developing a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. This will centre on its existing operations and future capital investments related to the delivery of water and wastewater services. A goal of Watercare’s strategy is to integrate climate change considerations into Watercare’s ‘Business as Usual’ decision making process, as has already been the case with the design of some assets to date.

The most significant changes in climate for the Auckland region over the next 100 years have been identified by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in their Auckland Region climate change projections and impacts report. Based on these projections, Watercare have identified a series of vulnerabilities regarding its existing infrastructure and operations.

This paper discusses how Watercare is developing a process to incorporate NIWA’s climate change projections for the Auckland region into a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy that will guide its strategic planning and operations. Many of these challenges will be applicable to other service providers throughout New Zealand. The water and wastewater industry is in a position to adopt timely and coordinated climate change mitigation and adaptation actions to future-proof their assets and services.