Dave Feldman - Urban Water Institute, Inc.

David L. Feldman
Professor and chair,
Department of Planning, Policy and Design,
School of Social Ecology
University of California, Irvine
Urban Water Institute
Spring water conference
Palm Springs, CA
February 19, 2014
• California is an archetype of global water challenges – supply stress,
growing demands, acceptability of supply & demand innovations.
• Researchers study economic, social, and built-environment (i.e., urban
planning) concerns – as well as technical feasibility of innovations, e.g.,
 Perceived and actual risks
 Public trust and confidence
 Inclusiveness of decisions regarding how alternatives are implemented
A global perspective on the challenges
Source: UN- FAO AQUASTAT database, 2012
Water demands have grown six-fold in the 20th Century
 twice as fast as population.
A precarious future – Colorado River
U.S. BuRec (2012)
Climate & population – a California perspective
• State’s population may increase 50% by 2025 (1995 base).
• Urban water demands may increase 50-60%.
• Most growth in hotter inland counties – with high evapo-
transpiration rates, exacerbated by climate change.
Urban water challenges – are there alternatives?
• Most of Los Angeles’ water supply is imported:
• Three major sources have limited future capacity.
• The fourth – recycled water use – could increase – if public concerns
could be alleviated.
Options and their potential
Likely future
Source: California Water Plan Update, (CA DWR)
UCI NSF-PIRE project
UC Irvine NSF-PIRE project ($4.8M ) in partnership with
University of Melbourne and Monash University, Australia
• Seeks to identify low-energy methods of turning wastewater into
drinking water in response to climate change, drought, population
• Considerations include feasibility, economics, public acceptability, urban
Why Australia? Lessons for California
 World’s driest inhabited continent.
 90% of 23 million inhabitants live in cities.
 Millennium Drought gravely affected SE region:
 Reservoirs fell to 26% capacity, bush fires
 Affected public attitudes toward climate
change, drought, water conservation.
Stormwater challenges – Australia & California
Bayside beaches litter source
Melbourne, Victoria.
Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, Victoria –
endpoint for stormwater discharges.
Feldman, D. (2013). “Governance of
urban stormwater in Australia &
Southern California,” California
Stormwater Quality Association,
Litter source control,
Los Angeles region
Los Angeles River outflow, Long Beach –
endpoint for stormwater discharges.
Traditional responses to urban stormwater
Flooding – Arroyo Seco (1913)
Flood of 1941
A tale of two cities – stormwater innovation
 Melbourne and Victoria (AU) encourage stormwater harvesting through –
 Rainwater tanks connected to roofs to provide water for gardens, toilet
flushing, clothes washing.
 Underground stormwater storage as part of on-site retention/ detention –
incentives given to developers and home owners to store and recycle
stormwater by providing rebates on current water and sewer charges.
 Local governments encourage use of reclaimed stormwater – “development
consents” can require stormwater storage for toilets, gardens, washing cars.
Constructed stormwater
… and Los Angeles
 Pollution & flooding aspects of stormwater huge challenge.
 2011 – Los Angeles City Council passed Low Impact
Development (LID) Ordinance:
 Established by city in collaboration with communities, NGOs, business
groups, building industry.
 Redevelopment projects mitigate runoff by capturing rainwater at its
source; utilizes rain barrels, permeable pavement, rainwater storage
tanks, infiltration swales or curb bump-outs to contain water.
 Other benefits include water conservation, groundwater recharge and
greening neighborhoods.
Optimizing choices, fostering trust
What the public and local officials came up with!
• Public outreach to encourage household
conservation – using water bills to show savings.
• Substitute low-quality treated water for nonpotable needs.
• Capture storm-water runoff before
contaminated by landscape.
• Reclaim wastewater.
• Create and sustain a culture of community
engagement & innovation.
• Assessment? Public engagement and consensus
energized officials to adopt a wide range of
approaches to augment water supplies/improve
drinking water productivity.
Putting it together – low-energy options to substitute,
regenerate, reduce water use
From: Grant, S. B., Saphores, J. D., Feldman, D. L.
(2012). Taking the “waste” out of “wastewater”
for human water security and ecosystem
sustainability. Science, 337, 681-686.
EXAMPLES OF URBAN ADAPTATION MEASURES: substitution (A), regeneration (B), reduction (C) at household
scale. Substitution includes watering garden with rainwater from a tank; flushing toilets and washing laundry
with treated storm-water effluent from a biofilter. For regeneration, a waste stabilization pond (WSP)
transforms household sewage into high-quality water for irrigating an orchard. Reduction includes repairing
leaks in distribution system, drip irrigation, dual-flush toilet, low-flow shower rose, front-loading clothes
washer. Other infrastructure shown includes conventional drinking water plant (DWTP); conventional
wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); river diversion (supplying the orchard).
Summing up – understanding public concerns
Burden of impact
of hazard
Nature of conflict
Examples of disputes
notion of
justice & water
Risk of water
potentially highconsequence; fall
on poor, women,
Threats to human
- environmental
wastes, reduced
in-stream flow;
Acute, short term
impacts; highintensity social
protest; violent
Dam-building, inter-basin diversion;
massive pollution spills (e.g., Owens
Valley; Hinckley, CA)
Newer idiom of
justice & water
Risk of water
potentially high
uncertainty; e.g.,
climate change
Broader welfare
issues at stake cost, affordability,
access, actions to
legacy important
social protest may
occur, but problems
viewed as long-term
& chronic
Waste-water re-use; desalination;
involuntary conservation measures;
privatizing supply
Feldman, David. 2011. “Integrated Water Management and Environmental Justice - Public Acceptability
and Fairness in Adopting Water Innovations,” Water Science and Technology 11 (2): 135- 141.
What makes an innovation likely to be adopted?
Technical feasibility – does the science and engineering support its
Economic cost – is it affordable relative to most likely alternatives , and
who will pay?
Environmental impact – what adverse effects could it generate?
Public acceptability – how will public perceive benefits, risks, fairness?
Innovation as thinking “outside the box”

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