Leading Practices in Climate Adaptation - Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA)

Laurna Kaatz, Julie Vano, Heather Dalrymple, Marisa Gonzalez, Mohammed Mahmoud, Jennifer McCarthy, Alan Cohn, Abby Sullivan, Julia Rockwell, Kavita Heyn, Seevani Bista, Goldamer Herbon, David Behar, Danielle Purnell, Ann Nagle, Keely Brooks, Tirusew Asefa
Created: 5/13/2022 -

Abstract

Leading Practices in Climate AdaptationWhile water utilities are highly adept at understanding and mitigating uncertainty, climate change enhances current challenges and adds new risks to already complex utility practices. Climate adaptation requires working across business functions and organizational silos, necessitating more integration and new tools. It benefits from collaboration across sectors, including businesses and suppliers, and among the utility, the city, and the region. Developing new approaches is not easy—nor is the work straightforward—yet there is an incredible power in learning from and with each other.

For more than 10 years, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) has been at the forefront of strengthening the field of climate adaptation. WUCA members have uncovered ways to build adaptive capacity and incorporate new climate science into water management, planning, investments, and actions. To share what worked, WUCA has compiled climate adaptation practices that have been tested, leveraging WUCA members’ experiences to build a shared knowledge base and illustrate not-always-clear directions forward. The goal is to make approaches for successful climate change adaptation easier to discover, understand, and navigate, and to help other utilities avoid having to recreate the wheel or invest in unnecessary efforts, thus saving time and money.

This collection of leading practices in climate adaptation covers a suite of climate adaptation actions and is intended to broadly promote collaborative learning. Each practice in the collection is explained and supported by concrete examples. These practices are drawn from WUCA work products and WUCA members’ experiences, and, when possible, connected to relevant resources and related efforts. Most of these practices are appropriate for water utilities of any size, as well as other sectors interested in climate adaptation.

Introduction

For more than 10 years, WUCA has been at the forefront of strengthening the field of climate adaptation. WUCA members have uncovered ways to build adaptive capacity and incorporate new climate science into water management, planning, investments, and actions. WUCA’s experience comes from the cutting-edge activities and products developed by the Alliance’s 12 utility members from across the United States, who represent a range of decision-making processes, risk profiles, utility sizes, and geographical contexts, as well as from WUCA’s collaborative action as an alliance. WUCA members’ experiences are deeply rooted in a willingness to innovate and learn from what works and, importantly, what does not. Through sustained effort and supportive peer learning, the collective experiences of WUCA members offer practical paths forward to develop and implement climate change adaptation actions more effectively.

This report describes a two-year effort to compileLeading Practices Figure tested climate adaptation practices that leverage WUCA members’ experiences, building a shared knowledge base and illustrating not-always-clear directions forward. The goal is to make approaches for successful climate change adaptation easier to discover, understand, and navigate, and to help other utilities avoid having to recreate the wheel or invest in unnecessary efforts, thus saving time and money.

This collection includes examples from each WUCA member utility, highlighting what worked for them and providing others an opportunity to learn from and build on the Alliance’s in-the-field experiences. Many current leading practices were tried after other ideas and approaches did not work. When possible, the examples in this collection provide information about how these approaches have evolved to date, with an expectation that they will continue to evolve with time.

Published On

Recommended Document Citation:

WUCA (Water Utility Climate Alliance). (2021). Leading Practices in Climate Adaptation. Prepared for the WUCA member agencies and adaptation community by the WUCA Leading Practices Committee and Aspen Global Change Institute. https://www.wucaonline.org/adaptation-in-practice/leading-practices

Organization(s)

The Water Utility Climate Alliance is dedicated to collaborating on climate change issues affecting drinking water utilities. By enhancing climate change research and developing adaptation strategies, water utilities will be positioned to respond to climate change and protect our water supplies. In January 2007, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission hosted the first national Water Utility Climate Change Summit, which was attended by more than 200 water and wastewater utility executives, government officials, climate change experts and environmental leaders.