The good news is that even with all the uncertainties about the future climate there are tools currently available to protect organizations and their assets from water-related threats— and deliver access to opportunities.
“Many industries routinely plan projects that span decades, well within the range of time that we can expect significant new realities due to climate change.” says Hu Fleming, WSP*’s Director of Water Strategy and Sustainability. “This includes having too much water to deal with in the form of storms or floods, or too little, which can mean that they don’t have enough water to carry out operations.”
“WSP*’s clients are increasingly asking for long-term climate solutions at the outset of their projects, due to external and internal drivers,” says Sean Capstick, WSP*’s Global Sustainability and Climate Change Technical Community Leader. “There are obviously regulatory drivers, such as environmental assessments and permits, that are needed to get the project approved, but there are also internal stakeholder drivers. Investors want to know what is being done to proactively address climate change. We can help our clients demonstrate that they are taking the required steps.”
Part of WSP*’s response to client’s needs has been the advancement of a Sustainable Development and Climate Change Technical Community, one of several communities within the global company that share expertise, experience and tools. This team applies a risk management approach to assess how to best incorporate data into long-term planning. For example, it is possible to project how rainfall intensity and drought are likely to change in 2050, link to the stochastic features of water balances by projecting the ranges of future time series data, and then engage with stakeholders to look at the issues from a basin wide lens.
The Technical Community coordinates resources including a central climate team. One of this team’s strengths is its ability to access public climate data via governmental online portals and interpret it using proprietary software and then incorporating the findings into clients’ risk management programs.
As a result, organizations with long planning horizons can be confident that they are taking the best steps forward in meeting their water needs in a changing climate.
About the author
Chris Davidson is a Surface Water Engineer with WSP*. His more than 17 years of experience spans the field of water resources, including stormwater design, hydrology and hydraulic modelling, water budgets, water management, and climate interactions with surface water. Project experience includes design of stormwater collection and detention systems, design of hydraulic structures, environmental assessments, watercourse rehabilitation, flood delineation and management, source protection studies, and analysis of potential climate change impacts and mitigation.
* This work was performed by Golder professionals who joined WSP in an acquisition completed in 2021.