Viewpoint: How mass migration impacts our water supply systems


“Mass migration, either uncoordinated or coordinated, is a relevant scenario for the water industry for the coming decades. It asks for (rapid) adaptation measures, writes Dr. Peter van Thienen. Strengthening cooperation on water management. Our water supply systems and infrastructure have an incredibly long lifetime of at least several decades and represent substantial financial value. The associated planning horizons are, therefore, also quite long. As our world is changing ever quicker (technology and our environment), the question arises to what degree this long planning horizon continues to be an asset and when it may become a liability?
The water industry has recognized the need for resilience and flexibility, and academics have developed strategies for improving our (climate) resilience over the past decade. However, many developed approaches focus on dealing with natural disasters, their impact on water supply systems, and the speedy recovery of their operation.
However, an additional class of scenarios needs to be taken more into account: (semi-)permanent state changes, in which things do not or cannot get back to the original state. Think of our environment (e.g., depletion of an aquifer with limited recharge, desertification) and our societies and urban systems (e.g., significat changes in population size). In this blog post, I discuss two scenarios of the latter category.”

(Citation: van Thienen, P. – Viewpoint: How mass migration impacts our water supply systems – (2023)17 May)

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