Capturing the changing dynamics between governmental actions across plausible future scenarios in urban water systems

Elsevier, Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 62, November 2020
Wan S., Radhakrishnan M., Zevenbergen C., Pathirana A.
Deterioration of water quality due to economic development, climate change and other factors has become a challenge to human beings and the ecosystem. Most countries have recognized this problem and have resorted to actions for improving water quality. However, the effect on water quality improvements due to these actions is uncertain due to the plausibility of multiple scenarios like climate change scenarios and socio- economic scenarios. Hence it is important to assess how these actions implemented by various governmental agencies relate or connect to each other towards sustaining the water quality targets in the future. The paper discusses the need for a systematic approach based on SWOT analysis and DPSIR framework to establish and assess the connections between governmental actions that will ensure achieving water quality objectives at present and in the future scenarios. The proposed methodology to quantify the connection relies on impact based indicators for quantifying connections between governmental actions. The methodology was tested using the governmental actions usually implemented to improve water quality in Luzhi Town, a water village in China, in the context of four plausible scenarios based on change in land use and economic development. The results show that the connections between physical actions as well as policy actions change across future scenarios due to the change in drivers resulting in diverse impacts based on the scenario. For example, the difference in impact on water quality due to wetlands project is profound between the high green area scenarios and low green area scenarios irrespective of economic drivers, whereas the difference in impact due to the sanitation project is mild in all four scenarios. It can be concluded that by combining SWOT analysis and DPSIR framework, the connections between governmental actions can be established; and, scenario-based impact assessment methods can be used to select, implement and sustain governmental actions for resolving the challenges related to water quality deterioration in the future.