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Developing the evidence base for mainstreaming adaptation of stormwater systems to climate change

Gersonius, B., Nasruddin, F., Ashley, R., Jeuken, A., Pathirana, A., Zevenbergen, C.
Water research 2012 v.46 no.20 pp. 6824-6835
case studies, climate, climate change, flood control, infrastructure, politics, risk, stormwater, stormwater sewer systems, uncertainty, Netherlands
In a context of high uncertainty about hydro-climatic variables, the development of updated methods for climate impact and adaptation assessment is as important, if not more important than the provision of improved climate change data. In this paper, we introduce a hybrid method to facilitate mainstreaming adaptation of stormwater systems to climate change: i.e., the Mainstreaming method. The Mainstreaming method starts with an analysis of adaptation tipping points (ATPs), which is effect-based. These are points of reference where the magnitude of climate change is such that acceptable technical, environmental, societal or economic standards may be compromised. It extends the ATP analysis to include aspects from a bottom-up approach. The extension concerns the analysis of adaptation opportunities in the stormwater system. The results from both analyses are then used in combination to identify and exploit Adaptation Mainstreaming Moments (AMMs). Use of this method will enhance the understanding of the adaptive potential of stormwater systems. We have applied the proposed hybrid method to the management of flood risk for an urban stormwater system in Dordrecht (the Netherlands). The main finding of this case study is that the application of the Mainstreaming method helps to increase the no-/low-regret character of adaptation for several reasons: it focuses the attention on the most urgent effects of climate change; it is expected to lead to potential cost reductions, since adaptation options can be integrated into infrastructure and building design at an early stage instead of being applied separately; it will lead to the development of area-specific responses, which could not have been developed on a higher scale level; it makes it possible to take account of local values and sensibilities, which contributes to increased public and political support for the adaptive strategies.