On March 23, 2015, the “Cities to Cities Dialogues” event featured unique perspectives from more than 60 participants who joined from multiple cities across Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. The second installment of the resilient urban water infrastructure series remotely connected attendees via webinar with event moderator, Dr. Fernando Miralles-Willhelm, Hydrologist and Water Resources Engineer, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The twin objectives for this event were: (1) to identify potential twinning arrangements; and (2) to share case studies which highlight solutions to building resilience to floods and droughts. The event featured presentations from the following experts:
- Dr. Newsha Ajami, Director of Urban Water Policy, Water in the West Program, Stanford University;
- Dean Amhaus, CEO, The Water Council;
- Dr. Jose Luis Martin Bordes, Program Officer, Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance (GWOPA);
- Susan Dundon, Director of Program Development, Millennium Water Alliance (MWA);
- Miroslav Honzák, Senior Science Director, Conservation International (CI);
- Ignatius Jean, Executive Director, Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association (CAWASA);
- Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)
- Iván Rodriguez, Water Engineer Specialist, SEDAPAL (Peru);
- Karen Sands, Sustainability Manager, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD);
- David Toll, Deputy Program Manager, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
- Joe Vesey, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Xylem, Inc.; and
- Xavier Vidal, General Manager, EPMAPS (Ecuador).
The presentations are available here.
- Ms. Kehoe described SFPUC’s exploration of new local water supplies through conservation, re-use, groundwater, mandates and financial incentives. SFPUC conducts annual water evaluations and compares the water supply with estimated purchases in order to determine whether voluntary or mandatory actions are required by the SFPUC and/or consumers.
- Ms. Dundon explained MWA’s application of a Resources, Infrastructure, Demand, Access (RIDA) assessment and 3-R (recharge, retention and reuse) approach which accounts for all local water uses, resources and stakeholders.
- Mr. Vesey underscored how Xylem’s innovative technologies and business models help cities minimize and recover from floods by supporting early warning systems, 24/7 disaster response, and resilience planning for the future. He shared multiple examples from Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and New Mexico where Xylem’s technologies helped pump excess water in the case of floods or helped improve water re-use and efficiency in the case of droughts.
- Dr. Ajami underscored the role of breakthrough technologies in addressing water challenges. She recommended three policies to improve innovation for water technologies, which included: (1) price water that promotes conservation and creates revenue for new innovation; (2) create water innovation offices at the state and local levels; and (3) implement a surcharge on water use to create a stable and sustainable funding source for investment in innovative solutions and water conservation and efficiency.
- Mr. Jean and Dr. Bordes focused on the dual challenges of floods and droughts facing water and sewerage utilities in the Caribbean and the potential role for Water Operator Partnerships (WOP). This type of twinning arrangement strengthens utilities by improving management, technical capacity and access to finance through improved credit worthiness. They discussed two examples of a WOP which included a partnership between (1) Contra Costa and Belize Water Service; and (2) Martinique and Saint Lucia.
- Mr. Vidal shared how EPMAPS partnered with The Nature Conservancy and developed the Quito Water Conservation Fund (Fondo para la Protección del Agua – FONAG), which is an endowment fund that ensures long-term sustainability and watershed protection. The fund receives money from the government, public utilities, electric companies, private companies and non-government organizations.
- Mr. Amhaus highlighted how the Global Water Center serves as a hub for public-private partnerships and Ms. Sands shared an example where MMSD applied green infrastructure to reduce storm water runoff and prevent future flooding and water pollution.
Data Information and Decision Support Tools
- Mr. Rodriguez highlighted how SEDAPAL uses a Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) tool to inform its Master Plan for decision-making under uncertain climate conditions and help develop project portfolios for adaptive management.
- Mr. Toll outlined NASA’s mapping tools and shared examples, which demonstrated NASA’s collaborative approaches to collect and disseminate information which include (1) South American Land and Data Assimilation System (SALDAS) combines local observations with NASA’s advanced hydrological modeling expertise and capabilities to improve water management; and (2) NASA and USAID’s SERVIR integrates satellite data, in situ data and forecast modeling.
- Dr. Honzák emphasized how CI developed a toolkit that adds value for utility managers and decision makers in three ways: (1) Develop natural infrastructure options to show how conservation can be directly incorporated into development; (2) Demonstrate new practices for utilities and agriculture sectors that are cost-effective, reduce water removal and pollution problems; and (3) Develop payment for ecosystem services projects, and create new markets for water to create a direct financial incentive for conserving watersheds and freshwater ecosystems.