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Keywords:

  • water resources;
  • planning;
  • climate change;
  • uncertainty;
  • decision support

Waage, Marc D. and Laurna Kaatz, 2011. Nonstationary Water Planning: An Overview of Several Promising Planning Methods. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(3):535-540. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00547.x

Abstract:  Climate change is challenging the way water utilities plan for the future. Observed warming and climate model projections now call into question the stability of future water quantity and quality. As water utilities cope with preparing for the large range of possible changes in climate and the resulting impacts on their water systems, many are searching for planning techniques to help them consider multiple possible conditions to better prepare for a different, more uncertain, future. Many utilities need these techniques because they cannot afford to delay significant decisions while waiting for scientific improvements to narrow the range of potential climate change impacts. Several promising methods are being tested in water utility planning and presented here for other water utilities to consider. The methods include traditional scenario planning, classic decision making, robust decision making, real options, and portfolio planning. Unfortunately, for utilities vulnerable to climate change impacts, there is no one-size-fits-all planning solution. Every planning process must be tailored to the needs and capabilities of the individual utility.