Advancing the adaptation of the water resource sector in highly urbanised regions across Australia
The latest Australian State of the Climate report points to key changes in rainfall averages across the country. For example, the report indicates a declining trend in winter rainfall in the southwest and southeast. With climate change predicted to continue to influence rainfall variability in Australia, highly urbanised regions located in the southwest and southeast will need to take proactive steps towards effectively managing their water resources. One such step is the adoption of water sensitive strategies based on the concept of urban metabolism. Urban metabolism has emerged in the last decades as a useful tool that can improve water resources management and planning as well as guide metropolitan growth. Specifically, it focuses on addressing issues related to water balance in urbanised areas, including water supply systems and usage as well as stormwater and wastewater management.
Drawing on a conceptual framework based on urban metabolism, this paper presents a comparative analysis on how water resources planning and management is being undertaken in three major Australian metropolitan regions: South East Queensland, Melbourne and Perth. The analysis focuses on existing plans, strategies and policies used to guide water resources and urban planning and management in the three regions. Findings are discussed around four major themes related to future changes and uncertainties, including climate extremes, future scenarios, climate change adaptation and growth management. The paper concludes by highlighting key insights that can advance proactive adaptation in the water resource sector.
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