Sustainable development in New Zealand is currently difficult to monitor as we have no established metrics by which to measure success. It is not typically a major design factor when designing or operating a water supply or wastewater treatment system. For sustainability initiatives to be standardised with design and implementation, there needs to be a scale to measure and monitor results.
Sustainable development as per the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Local Government Act (LGA) consists of four main aspects; environmental, economical, social and cultural. The cultural aspect is more difficult to assess as currently evaluation measures are only qualitative. In order to successfully monitor the cultural aspect of sustainability, a metric scale needs to be developed to rank the cultural features and impacts of the project or operation.
In the United Kingdom (UK) sustainability appraisals are established prior to a project to assess how the works will contribute to sustainable development. The UK sustainability appraisals covers the environmental, economical and social impacts of a project. It is developed in the project planning stage and refined as the project progresses. The UK also has established a policy and vision over the water industry as a whole, to move towards sustainable development in the water sector.
This paper will compare the progress of the UK’s sustainable initiatives with where New Zealand is heading, and also discuss the feasibility of implementing an established sustainability metric for the New Zealand water industry.