Assessment of Governance options to support the implementation of the Urban Water Blueprint for Adelaide
Professor Jennifer McKay, University of South Australia
University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, CSIRO, Flinders University
Water Resources Mix for Adelaide
Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) includes delivery of drinking water, stormwater management and harvesting, flood mitigation, wastewater treatment and recycling, and protecting the health of the water courses; and its implementation encompasses integration of all components of the urban water cycle within the City’s urban development to achieve sustainable economic, social, and environmental goals. But implementing an IUWM strategy and/or transitioning to water sensitive cities face several challenges, which is further exacerbated by the inclusion of ‘new sources’ (e.g. stormwater, recycled wastewater) in to the supply mix.
Literatures suggest the challenges are not technical; instead they are socio-institutional. This demands considering how these can be resolved to manage these mix of water sources. Accordingly, this study sponsored by the Goyder Institute for Water research was carried out to identify the legal and policy challenges to implementing IUWM in Adelaide, and also explore potential solutions to overcome these challenges. To do so, the project team used a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to gather the required data including documentary analysis, Photostory, and internet survey of key actors in the South Australian urban water sector.
Progress Update and Key Findings
The Photostory exercise helped achieve engagement with the general community, the water users/consumers while the online survey targeted the key stakeholders within the South Australian water industry representing various stakeholder groups and included both public and private sectors. The images and respective narratives elicited the values, emotional connection and the social relations involved in the governance of water in an urban setting. The survey of 55 key stakeholders identified several challenges and barriers, including organisational/corporate culture within the water sector; institutional capacity; institutional uncertainty about access rights; institutional uncertainty about ownership of water; and compliance with environmental and health regulations. The stakeholders clarified that some of the challenges, such as ownership and access rights, were related to the ‘new’ water sources such as stormwater and recycled wastewater.
Adoption and Impact
The study found that institutional arrangements need to clearly determine the potential ownership and management models for implementing IUWM as more than 50 percent of the key stakeholders surveyed agreed that institutional uncertainty about access rights and ownership of water was a barrier to implementing an integrated urban water management strategy. The results indicate there is no ‘one size fits all’ structural arrangement for implementing IUWM strategy and addressing the institutional challenges requires engaging the governments, corporations and society in a three way collaborative effort and the study found that stakeholder analysis and mapping could be a useful tool/technique for engaging strategically with the stakeholders and form the basis for developing coalitions to supporting implementation of IUWM.