Page 53 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
Blackouts are a tertiary impact from climate change that has the capacity to temporarily affect almost
all water services at WestWyck (due to their reliance on electric pumps) except the supply of gravity fed
rainwater and pressurised mains potable water. Supply of recycled water to Aurora is also vulnerable. In
practice, the impact from blackouts is minimal due to their temporary nature (a period of hours to days) but
could pose a greater problem depending on the extent to which the frequency and duration of blackouts is
affected in future.
Extended drought is a more serious threat because of its ability to affect mains water supplies, which
underpin all of Aurora’s water services and potable services at WestWyck. However, Aurora and WestWyck
residents are better placed to handle drought and water rationing relative to other Melbournians as the
systems in place maximise the utility of water multiple times through re-use and recycling. Residents at both
sites were unaffected by water rationing in the latter years of last decade.
Finding 3: Climate adapted infrastructure requires integration of technical, institutional and social
resilience. Where uncertainty exists regarding future operating conditions, institutional, and social
enablers may prove to be particularly important enablers of resilience.
Under operating conditions of high certainty, a priority emphasis on incorporating technical enablers within
system designs may prove an adequate approach to ensuring infrastructure resilience. However, where
uncertainty over the type, intensity and frequency of future hazards is high, system designs will likely benefit
from a greater emphasis on institutional enablers to ensure infrastructure resilience. Conditions of extreme
uncertainty would require systems to be designed in a way that resilience depends less on technical
enablers and more on the strength of social enablers.
Finding 4: An emphasis on technical resilience in the design of novel infrastructure systems at
the expense of community and institutional enablers of resilience may place certain communities
at risk from climate change and other disturbances. This risk is likely to be greatest in residential
developments where social capital is weak, and where system designers and investors have limited
on-going responsibility for system functions.
Where technical arrangements take precedence and assumptions are made about the functions, users
and services of systems, then urban developments may lack the social and institutional capital required
to support urban resilience. This may be exacerbated in cases where communities are deficient in other
forms of capital such as time and financial resources that can assist in the development of social capital and
underpin adaptive capacity when system faults occur or the reconfiguration of a system is required.
Finding 5: Victoria’s current regulatory landscape poses few direct barriers to the replication of the
systems examined, but it does restrict innovation in community-scale infrastructure systems.
With the exception of small scale on-site blackwater treatment at WestWyck, the energy and water systems
at both developments face no direct regulatory barriers to replication. However, current design of regulations
(including the design of energy and water service pricing) does not adequately account for either the positive
or negative externalities associated with traditional or alternative energy and water services. This situation
represents an uneven operating environment that disadvantages more innovative energy and water systems
that provide public goods, including such as lower carbon footprint to conventional services; lower nutrient
loads to waterways; and reduced or delayed demand on centralised infrastructure. Developments that
internalise externalities or reduce environmental loads (such as Aurora and WestWyck) are therefore at a
relative disadvantage and this disadvantage can be expected to act systemically against the development of
community scale systems and realisation of the benefits they accrue.
Finding 6: Community scale systems potentially provide both advantages and limitations over
conventional centralised systems. Integrating centralised and distributed system models may
maximise advantages and minimise limitations associated with both models. An integrated system
comprising linked provision infrastructure at multiple scales may offer the best way to build
resilience at all levels - from resource producer to resource user.