Policies enabling resilience in Seattle's water services

Laura M Inha, Jarmo J Hukka

Abstract


The combined impact of diverse transitions, such as climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization and ageing infrastructure are expected to affect the quantity, quality, accessibility and affordability of water globally. Water demand and competition for water are likely to increase. Addressing these changes and hazards requires societies to be resilient, i.e. flexible and adaptive instead of only resistant. Seattle, Washington USA, has a long history of sustainable development and adaptation to changes and hazards such as population growth, water pollution, droughts and floods. Based on a literature review and semi-structured interviews among twelve selected local water professionals, this paper a) defines development steps and policies that have led to the current situation; b) explores key policies that are important to the resilience of Seattle’s water services; and c) examines challenges in and recommendations for improving resilience in the future. The results reveal the importance of specific policies and practices in enabling resilience for each water service: water supply, wastewater and stormwater. They also reveal governance levels where resilience is most powerfully implemented. The paper concludes that policies that were found to build and improve the resilience of Seattle’s water services are diverse and most effective when implemented at a local level. In advancing resilience, it is important to acknowledge also informal rules, including mindsets and habits.


Keywords


water supply; wastewater; stormwater; water services management; water resilience

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2612-0496/8688

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