Professional guidance can take a number of forms, ranging from informal advice to a comprehensive site-specific Water scarcity/Drought Risk Assessment (DRA). The required level of consultation will depend largely on the vulnerability of the project or development, the anticipated water scarcity/drought hazard level and the level of DRA required (if any) by local legislation.
Firstly, informal advice can represent a useful and effective means to gain a greater understanding of water scarcity/drought hazard. Professional forums and even professional social-media platforms can provide a means to access professionals with expertise in the field of water scarcity/drought risk assessment. Academics, with expertise in your location of interest, may also prove a useful resource. They may have an intricate knowledge of water scarcity/drought hazard, as well as being able to identify key datasets and information that already exists in your project area.
A more detailed understanding of water scarcity/drought risk can be obtained via a water scarcity/drought risk appraisal. A water scarcity/drought risk appraisal will provide a more localised view of water scarcity/drought risk (than provided by the ThinkHazard! tool), but still a broad view of drought risk. These studies are typically desk studies that will attempt to provide a generic assessment of water scarcity/drought risk by integrating available information, and perhaps undertaking some coarse scale modelling. A water scarcity/drought risk appraisal will highlight key areas where a more detailed study may be required. Consultants who have demonstrated skills and experience in undertaking and delivering water scarcity/drought risk assessments should be commissioned for this work. Ideally, the consultant should also have local experience in the project area, and consequently be familiar with available data and information as well as relevant local legislation and institutions.
A site specific DRA represents the most detailed appraisal of water scarcity/drought risk at a given location. DRA’s can provide detailed information about water scarcity/drought risk, and inform the design process as to the appropriate level of adaptation required. DRA’s can be resource intensive, and should be undertaken by consultants with demonstrated expertise in site-specific water scarcity/drought risk assessments, including how water availability may change with climate change. They will need to have appropriate skills in meteorology, hydrology, and computational water balance modelling The consultant should also have extensive experience undertaking DRA’s under the given climatology as well as being familiar with local legislation. If the project involves construction, there may be relevant building standards that apply to the project regarding water scarcity/drought risk, e.g. rainwater storage, the installation of combined sewage systems for rainwater and sewage water, the application of temperature-regulation by the design of buildings or the installation of smart-temperature regulation systems (e.g. geothermal heating/cooling; green roofs), or the use of solar panels/small-scale wind turbines to ensure local electricity supply.. Always ask for detailed examples of relevant experience from any consultant you wish to hire for these purposes.
The level of professional guidance will depend largely on the vulnerability of the project and/or identified hazard level.
- For medium to high vulnerability assets, consider commissioning a site specific DRA, with the aim being to provide a detailed understanding of local water scarcity/drought risk.
- For lower vulnerability assets, consider commissioning a specialist water scarcity/drought risk appraisal, with objective being to provide an overview of water scarcity/drought hazard in the region.