Category: Planning & Management
A regime shift in urban water management is necessary for more sustainable and inclusive urban water governance. Urban water governance is a framework for addressing critical issues in cities' water resources by creating a more inclusive policy for sustainability. However, there are certain barriers or institutional inertia inherent in traditional urban water systems with an infrastructure or technological approach to management. In this study, we present open access data for drinking water and wastewater utilities as an important facilitator in overcoming these institutional barriers and transitioning to a more sustainable governance system. Within this approach, we draw upon precepts of the energy-water nexus and recommend holistic data collection of water resources to include embedded energy. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), servicing Boston and its surrounding communities, has a large amount of accessible data of both water volume and embedded energy. Using the MWRA as a case study, we discuss ways in which the data are used to facilitate transitions to a sustainable water management system. We discuss the current and potential benefits of transforming data into knowledge to assist in transitioning the existing water management regime, based on the MWRA experience. The results of the study can be broadly applied to other water utilities and further emphasize the importance of regional or national data collection efforts of urban water.
Christopher Chini– Graduate Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana