16 April 2013 — A tool which allows water utilities to identify what infrastructure is likely to be at risk during events like floods, bushfires, high winds and heatwaves and assess different costed adaptation options to manage that risk, has been released by the Water Services Association of Australia.

The AdaptWater tool was developed with funding from the Federal Government’s Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways program.

WSAA executive director Adam Lovell said there had been a marked increase in the occurrence of extreme events.

“(We) are now able to identify where investment is needed before facing a crisis. Our members operate around 260,000 km of pipeline and hundreds of water and sewage treatment facilities.

“Ensuring these assets perform reliably under climate change will be an important outcome of the AdaptWater tool.”

Mr Lovell said AdaptWater was a climate change adaptation quantification and option assessment tool for the Australian water industry owned and maintained by WSAA.

As a part of the pilot project the tool was tested by six WSAA members throughout Australia. The largest study examined Sydney Water’s water and sewerage assets in the Illawarra region of NSW.

“Th tool was developed by ClimateRisk, so we have utilised world leading climate change adaptation expertise and the most up to date climate change data, which means that water utilities can assess short to long term risk to infrastructure,” Mr Lovell said.

“Risk associated with climate change can be considered alongside other quantified risks within the decision making process, including system risks, engineering risks and operational risks, this allows utilities to facilitate more informed decisions within projects.

“Being able to tackle the highest priorities and manage capital expenditure will also help reduce upward pressure on customer’s bills.”