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Understanding Integrated Urban Water Management

October 16, 2018

Tanvi Nagpal, Director of the International Development Program, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Mona Grieser, former Chief of Party, USAID Be Secure Project, AECOM International Development
Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep, Lead Environmental Specialist, The World Bank
Bikram Ghosh, Senior Adviser, Urban Services and Governance, AECOM International Development

Moderated by Winston Yu, Senior Adviser, International Water Management Institute

International development experts gathered for a discussion on how to address urban water challenges in a clean, more efficient, resilient and equitable manner through Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM).

 Yu noted the importance of cities to development and growth. As urbanization increases, Yu mentioned that IUWM will become more relevant. This method not only protects people from water, such as flooding, but also draws people closer to water.

 Harshadeep emphasized that there needs to be a way in which a watershed is thought of as one entity from a planning and management point of view, as the source of water for cities can be impacted by several elements, including deforestation and pollution. He also stressed the importance of securing a reliable water supply for an urban area and ensuring its sustainability.

 IUWM also entails analyzing water quality, as ground water and water sources can often be contaminated from agricultural or industrial waste. Managing flooding in cities and ensuring resilience against this phenomenon is also a component of IUWM, as floods are a growing problem for many countries. To address these problems, IUWM incorporates climate-smart approaches and new technologies.

 Nagpal discussed how urban water issues cannot be solved solely by one actor, but by the participation of many people and groups. She believes IUWM allows for the interaction of experts from all sectors, which is necessary to alleviate these urban water problems.

 Grieser shared her experience working on a USAID project in the Philippines, where droughts are becoming more and more prevalent. After noticing this trend, she began working on water demand management. She went on to highlight Seattle as a city that has efficiently managed their water because of effective urban water planning, and a good example to look to for best practices in this field. She applied some of these lessons to her work in the Philippines.

 Ghosh noted that he looks at IUWM from a climate angle. He mentioned that because of climate variability, the change in the seasonality of rainfall has been dramatic. Rainfall patterns are changing significantly, meaning cities are getting the same amount of rain, but in a much shorter time. This occurrence, along with more development and less green area, is contributing to the problem of flooding.

The event concluded with questions regarding the complexity of urban water issues and how to explain it to the public and lessons that can be learned from past work in providing electricity to those in need.