Water

2.3. Water and climate change

Aim: The session aims at introducing water management solutions that enable the mitigation of or adaptation to climate change. These include examples related to increased flood risks, more intensive storms and rainfall, active utilization of rain water and conservation measures.

Facilitator: Reija Ruuhela, Head of Climate Center, Finnish Meteorological Institute
Rapporteur: Aino Inkinen, Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute

Management of surface water in an urban environment in city of Växjö

In city of Växjö they have worked with storm water issues for several years in order to reduce the emissions but also in order to reduce the problems with flooding. This has resulted in several solutions from sedimentation ponds and wetlands to large wetlands areas and parks. Most of these constructions are in the middle of the city.
Malin Engström, Responsible for planning, Växjö, Sweden

Participatory approach and adaptation measures dealing with floods in Klaipeda, Lithuania

City of Klaipeda is flooded almost every year due to Smelte river high waters and sea level rise. Within BaltCICA project, the city is aiming at a better capability to deal with the local impacts of climate change. Project activities in the city are focused on impact assessment, development, appraisal and implementation of adaptation measures that will help to solve flooding problem. The process in Klaipeda is a good example of a dialogue between various stakeholders, directed towards planning and implementation of concrete climate change adaptation measures at local level.
Vaiva Ramanauskiene, Consultant, Environmental Centre for Administration and Technology in Lithuania

Coordination of sustainable climate change adaptation in Greve, Denmark

Greve Municipality experienced in 2002 and 2007 some severe floodings due to heavy rainfall and a very dense city mass. As a consequence of this the City Council decided to map potential floodings to make a plan for steps to be taken to prevent future floodings and consequently change of plans for new investments. This has proven very efficient, but it does not stop there. A Climate Adaptation Group was formed with participants from the Nature & Environment Department, the Plan & Building Department and the Greve Sewage Authority. The presentation will describe methods for adapting to climate changes used in Greve with respect to the total water cycle, communication with the political system, interdisciplinary issues, how to prioritize the efforts when adapting to climate changes in Greve and how contingency plans are implemented and used in extreme rain situations in Greve. In the future Greve Municipality will engage the citizens more and more.
Birgit Paludan, Hydraulic Engineer, Greve Sewage and Lars Fleng Vestergaard, City Planner, Architect, Municipality of Greve, Denmark

  • Presentation is not available

How to predict consequences and cope with climate change, the case of Stavanger

  • Short film

Summary of parallel session 2.3 Water and climate change

The session covered case study presentations from Växjö, Klaipeda, Greve and a film from Stavanger which provided practical and multifaceted solutions to current and future climate change water challenges which may be adapted in different settings. Water management has been approached through collaborative means, either among public authorities or in collaboration with other stakeholders. New tools are being developed incorporating mapping and hydrological changes arising from CC, and it is increasingly acknowledged that investments now will prevent excess costs later.

Presentations:

Malin Engström: Management of surface water in an urban environment in city of Växjö

The city of Växjö has worked with storm water issues for several years primarily to reduce the problems with flooding and urban expansion, rather than climate related events. The growing city is taking over neighbouring environment and increasing areas of low absorptive capacity, and there is a continuous need to provide holding, filtering and absorption areas for surface runoff and spring and storm floods. CC adaptation is bonus, yet not a driver.

Several authorities have worked together to find solutions, and integration of expertise has enabled the implementation of effective and relatively low-cost solutions. The key solution to surface water management is integrating sedimentation ponds and wetlands to large wetlands areas and parks within the urban fabric. Holding pools and bunkers and water drainage systems are designed to function without the need for pumping or other intervention. Public leisure has been taken into account in certain instances, for example where a popular outdoor park gains a skating pond in winter months.

Vaiva Ramanauskiene: Participatory approach and adaptation measures dealing with floods in Klaipeda, Lithuania

The City of Klaipeda is flooded almost every year due to Smelte river high waters and sea level rise. Water management is driven by CC, and adaptation to CC is a driver. Klaipeda participated in the BaltCICA (Climate Change: Impacts, Costs and Adaptation in the Baltic Sea Region, http://www.baltcica.org/) project, and supported by the project, water management activities in the city are focused on impact assessment, development, appraisal and implementation of adaptation measures that will help to solve flooding problem.

The process described the development of dialogue between various stakeholders, directed towards planning and implementation of concrete climate change adaptation measures at local level. Learning by both public and private sectors was enhanced by the dialogue and planning processes, providing a common platform of CC knowledge and awareness of flooding issues that will facilitate planning and implementing measures in other parts of the city.

Birgit Paludan: Coordination of sustainable climate change adaptation in Greve, Denmark

The municipality of Greve in Denmark experienced in 2002 and 2007 some severe floods due to heavy rainfall in very dense urban areas. As a consequence of this the City Council decided to map flood risk areas to develop plans to prevent future flooding and consequently change plans for new investments. This has proven very efficient, and in addition, a Climate Adaptation Group was formed with participants from the Nature & Environment Department, the Plan & Building Department and the Greve Sewage Authority.

The meeting of different types of expertise to solve a common problem proved fruitful, and after overcoming problems stemming from different backgrounds and different approaches to the flooding problem, the group found common goals and a common language to help in joint planning and implementation. The personalities of the participants in group were seen to be pivotal in reaching agreements, as everyone worked to be flexible and look beyond their discipline. Engagement between experts and politicians was also facilitated by the group and its work, largely thanks to mapping tools developed that were used to highlight flood risk areas and the extent of possible damage in future flooding events.

Public participation is also considered to be crucial in future planning, and Greve will increasingly engage with its citizens to help promote CC awareness and adaptive behavior.

How to predict consequences and cope with climate change, the case of Stavanger

A short film was shown that illustrates a flood mapping tool developed to facilitate visualizing the effects of floods, storm surges and rising sea level. The tool uses a 3-d topographical map of the region of interest, including infrastructure and buildings, and depending on parameters entered shows the levels of water in different situations highlighting the areas most at risk and vulnerable to the hydrological consequences of CC.

The tool has clear advantages for city planners and authorities, but should also be treated with some confidentiality due to the possible impacts to property prices for example. The possible changes to water levels illustrated by the tool can help avoid development in vulnerable areas, and improve chances for adaptive measures to be implemented and thus minimize damage, while the knowledge of the risk of flood in existing built-up areas could increase insurance premiums and reduce property prices. This trade-off should be managed in a sensitive way.

Discussion

The discussion following the presentations focused mainly on the importance of communication among authorities whose competencies touch on CC adaptation issues, but also on the theme of responsibility. A common feeling was that few bodies were willing, or aware enough to take the responsibility to push CC adaptation planning and implementation. The role of the public was also brought up, and the problems related to a lack of awareness of the so-called big picture of CC. Tools such as the one showed by Stavanger could be used improve public awareness of both CC and associated risks, and the benefits of adaptation, as well as engaging with politicians to harness political will and support and mobilise funds for implementing adaptive measures.

The distinction between weather events and climate change was also discussed, as the need to prepare for weather appears to be easier for many parties to respond to rather than preparing for climate change. This also relates to the issue of time, and the need to act today for a worst-case future scenario. Short-term thinking will prove to be expensive if the effects of CC are more extreme than initially suspected, and therefore it is important to take into account the longer term in planning adaptive measures, but also urban development. Maintaining drainage areas within urban areas and building on higher ground can prove to be efficient means to adapt, but require the collaboration of different types of expertise to achieve.

Four key messages:

  • communication: raising awareness is very important and should include climate variability and climate change to reach a broad audience among various authorities and the public, establishing citizen ownership of the problem is key
  • integration: in order to find synergies and enable effective responses and development, cross-sectoral and holistic approaches to adaptation need to be taken to find win-win-win solutions
  • analysing risks using modelling and various mapping tools will help in identifying adaption options for proactive adaptation measures, and enable communicating in creative, visual ways
  • timeframes: planning must meet current challenges but also take into account long-term changes