Mitigating the water related effects of climate change

The challenge
The effects of climate change are most acutely felt through the presence of water – either too little or too much of it. In some areas, rising temperatures cause prolonged periods of drought, which challenge the availability of fresh water resources. In other areas, the occurrence of more extreme rain events lead to severe flooding which – in addition to the immediate risk to humans – pose a significant risk of damage to critical water infrastructure and can result in contamination of water sources.

The future
Water plays a crucial role in how we mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Well-planned climate change adaptation initiatives can reduce the negative social, environmental and economic impact of climate change. A holistic approach, which also links to urban development and urban water management, can result in both climate resilient and more liveable cities.

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As longer periods of drought increase the risk of water scarcity in some areas, an increased focus on water efficiency and conservation can increase water security for both companies and communities.

In other areas, where the primary risk is too much water due to increased precipitation and more frequent extreme weather events, the environmental and social impact of such events can be mitigated by planning ahead and forecasting future scenarios.

Increasing precipitation caused by climate change puts pressure on urban sewerage systems. This pressure can be alleviated by integrating local rainwater management solutions, which detain water in existing structures or divert it to areas where it causes the least damage, thereby increasing the overall stormwater capacity of the city.

For communities situated in coastal areas, one of the biggest threats caused by climate change are rising sea levels and more frequent and powerful storm surges. A combination of modelling and forecasting tools, coupled with solutions to prevent erosion and flooding, can help protect shorelines and coastal areas from the effects of climate change.

The water related challenges of climate change are many. However, climate change also presents an opportunity to rethink the way we integrate water in our cities. An integrated approach to urbanisation, urban water management and climate change can result in cost efficiency and synergies from pooled investments, which ultimately create greater value for the city. A good example of this is blue-green infrastructure, which serves a dual purpose of both increasing the city’s resilience to climate change and function as attractive recreational spaces for the local citizens to enjoy.

Connect with us: Cecilie Buch Thomsen, Senior Project Manager, cbt@stateofgreen.com