Both policy makers and industry are increasingly realizing the necessity to adopt an integrated approach to water management. In Europe, this is clearly stated in the Water Framework Directive, and by the recent funding of large research projects on that topic (e.g. PREPARED, SANITAS, TRUST). In North America, recent activities confirm this direction, e.g. the USEPA’s Integrated Planning and Permitting Initiative and integrated planning framework, two new WERF Research Challenges: “Linking Contaminant Sources to Receiving Water Impacts” and “Sustainable Integrated Water Management”. Other areas in the world are already following closely. IWA has launched the “Cities of the Future” programme, which has strong integration components.
Urban water management presents big challenges but also great opportunities to minimize both the impact on the receiving water (and on the environment in general, e.g. energy and materials consumption, pollutants emission) and the costs associated to that. Options like water quality based real time control, sewer operation minimizing odour and corrosion problems, global sewer control, construction of retention volumes and treatment facilities, water reuse, nutrient recovery etc. can all be better designed and evaluated by using models that include the interactions between all involved units. The problem becomes more complex, but the larger number of degrees of freedom allows for finding better solutions. Optimizing for individual sub-systems may not be the best solution for the entire system. The integrated assessment of the system provides the opportunity to develop such holistic solutions and/or provide the justification for prioritizing implementation plans in a manner that will provide the best value and greatest benefits for the receiving water.
Focus and objectives
The interest of the WG comprises the integration of models of all components of the water cycle in urban areas, including the waste, nutrients and energy cycles for the various operational processes as they relate to the water cycle. The main focus lies on model and software integration issues, e.g. on how to solve integration problems and how to exploit integration opportunities. Modelling is in this context mostly intended for decision support, not for process understanding.
The main aims of the WG are to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences regarding the use and development of tools and methods for MIUWS, and to build a network of experts in the field. Collaboration will be sought with other IWA groups focused on closely related topics, e.g. urban drainage, LCA, etc. and with WEF committees (e.g. Collection Systems).
The working group puts itself the following objectives in order to benefit MIA members and other IWA members interested in IUWS:
- create and maintain a web site and/or an IWA WaterWiki section, collecting relevant definitions, case-studies, existing integrated models and providing a discussion forum;
- organize activities: workshops, seminars and conference sessions; this includes the dissemination of the outcome of these WG activities;
- WG networking: connect to other groups within and outside IWA to exploit synergies and manage possible overlaps;
- launch a WG newsletter;
- write joint WG white papers and scientific papers.