Integrated Water Management

Integrated Water Management

25.03.2011 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
I went to a session the other week that Clearwater ran on the topic of Integrated Water Management (IWM). It was targeting councils essentially, but there was a range of people at the event.

IWM seems to be the new black when you are talking about urban water issues and focuses on the integration of potable water, stormwater, wastewater, recycled water and groundwater within the urban environment. An urban environment that is currently under pressure due to urban sprawl, need for new infrastructure, old infrastructure that is near the end of its life, an urban heat island, and in the context of climate change, population growth and energy and food issues.

Integrating green spaces into Melbourne's Docklands
             source: Peter Campbell

There is a significant problem within the industry in regard to the terminology. IWM is essentially the same as Water Sensitive Urban Design, Cities as Water Supply Catchments, and Sustainable Urban Water Management. It is rather hard for politicians and the community to get their head around when the terms keep changing.

The event saw some presentations from leading councils and practitioners like Sheridan Blunt, Penny Mueller, Phil Edwards, Sara Lloyd, Daneilla Gerente, Elissa Blake and Marion Urrutiaguer. Melbourne Water took the opportunity to release their guidelines - Developing a strategic approach to WSUD Implementation, Guidelines for Council. This is going to be a useful document in identifying all the ingredients for a strategy, including the greenhouse gas aspects of water treatment and reuse.

In my opinion the industry has to be careful in pursuing IWM as there are a range of institutional, capacity, economic and social elements of IWM that are not well understood at this stage. It will be these, more so than the technical aspects of IWM, that will prove to be most complex and likely to bring the movement to a halt.