- Conference 2022
- Subject Champions
- News & Blog
|Martin Shouler is a Public Health Engineer at the international engineering consultancy Arup. He works on water and related projects across both Building Engineering and Infrastructure. Martin started his career at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), spending 15 years in the Environment Division, ultimately leading the Public Health Engineering and Water Team. Amongst other things, he was involved in undertaking research and consultancy to support Building Regulations, Water Regulations and assisted in the development of the sustainability assessment method BREEAM.
On leaving BRE, Martin joined Arup as head of Public Health Engineering for London and now leads London Water for the firm.
In 2003, Martin became the founding Chairman of the Society of Public Health Engineers (SoPHE) which is the professional organisation for public health engineers in the UK and across the globe. He also served as an advisor to the Environment Agency with a special interest covering the water and construction industries.
More interventions such as collecting treated wastewater are needed to balance conflicting demands on scarce water resources
You’ve probably heard about the energy trilemma. Well, the water sector is facing its own trilemma: it needs to allocate increasingly scarce resources of water among citizens, the economy and the environment if it’s to avoid a damaging conflict between them.
Globally, water use is growing at twice the pace of the population. In less than 10 years, it is predicted that two-thirds of people will be living in areas of water stress conditions if a business-as-usual approach to water management continues.
There’s no doubting the seriousness of the situation. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently revised its most significant long-term risks worldwide. Among the three most likely and most significant risks were failure of climate change adaptation, interstate conflict and water crises.
The WEF defines water crises as “a significant decline in the available quality and quantity of fresh water resulting in harmful effects on human health and/or economic activity”. This includes the emerging gap between safe freshwater availability and water demand.
During the period 2012 – 2016, California experienced one of its most severe droughts on record and tensions emerged between citizens, the economy and the environment. The state’s multi-billion dollar almond industry is central to its economy yet it takes 10% of California’s water supply. With mandatory water restrictions introduced for citizens, many questioned whether agriculture’s water use is profligate.
When the drought ended in 2016, the crop fully recovered with the harvest returning to record numbers. So, perhaps a different question to ask is has lessons been learnt to ensure that California is more resilient to future water scarcity issues.
To help answer this question, Arup, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, is working to develop a City Water Resilience Framework to help cities and their catchments to better withstand shocks and stresses.
Climate change and rapid urbanisation are placing an increasing strain on the world’s water systems. With more than half of the world’s population in cities, working with city governments offers the opportunity to deal with increasing pressures and uncertainty by building the resilience of urban water systems. The Steering Group for the work consists of The World Bank, The Rockefeller Foundation, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) and The Lloyd's Register Foundation.
The project is aligned with The City Resilience Index (CRI), developed by Arup with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The CRI articulates the resilience of an urban system in an accessible, evidence-based and measurable way to inform planning, development and investment decisions. The Index has underpinned the 100 Resilient Cities programme, pioneering the concept of resilience worldwide and leading to cities around the world seeking to improve their resilience. Cities from five continents have been selected to contribute to the development of a global framework for water resilience.
Amman, Cape Town, Mexico City, Greater Miami and the Beaches, and Hull were selected because they represent the range of water challenges facing cities around the world. They have also been selected because of their diversity in terms of size of population, geographic location and economic status and because of their commitment to taking a strategic approach to resilience. Four of the five cities are part 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, which helps cities around the world become more resilient in the face of physical, social and economic challenges.
As part of this partnership, the project will explore each cities specific water concerns through field research and stakeholder interviews conducted with Arup. Data and findings will be used to establish qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure city water resilience, for use in any city anywhere. The resulting City Water Resilience Framework will be a global standard for water resilience, which enables cities to diagnose challenges related to water and utilize that information to inform planning and investment decisions.