How do you judge how sustainably and equitably a city uses its water resources?
Questions asked by Australia-Indonesia Centre Urban Water researchers from Institut Pertanian Bogor, Universitas Indonesia and Monash University in Bogor last November included: Can residents access and enjoy the city’s parks and waterways? Do residents feel a ‘connection’ with the city’s water? Is there genuine public participation in important decision making?
Together with participants from government agencies, utility companies, planning departments and the community, Urban Water researchers investigated how various groups in Bogor perceived the city’s use of its water resources in relation to the CRC Water Sensitive City Index.
“Understanding the ‘water sensitivity’ of a city means knowing the current condition of water management and city development practices there,” explains Dr Christoph Brodnik from Monash University.
“Benchmarking with the Water Sensitive City (WSC) Index,” he adds, “assesses a city or a metropolitan area against a range of urban water indicators. This enables urban water planners, designers and decision makers to understand current conditions, model the impact of potential management responses and track progress over time.”
The WSC Index was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC). The development of the index is ongoing but it has already been used in a range of sites in both developed and developing countries, and now Bogor.
The index comprises seven thematic goals: (1) ensuring good governance, (2) building community capital, (3) achieving equity of essential services, (4) improving productivity and resource efficiency, (5) ecological health, (6) ensuring quality urban space, and (7) use of adaptive infrastructure. Each of those goals is divided into a number of indicators, each of which describe one important criterion for judging the water sensitivity of a city.
This helps people new to the concept of sustainable water practices to reflect on current conditions and to recognise different levels of ‘water sensitivity’ from social, technical and ecological perspectives.
The ‘Benchmarking Bogor’ workshops were set up as facilitated discussions during which all participants shared their views on water management and city development issues. The scoring of each indicator was undertaken as a group, leading to lively discussion and open debate until consensus for a final score for each indicator was reached.
Through this benchmarking process, participants start to develop a shared understanding of the key water management and city development issues facing their community, and an understanding of the city’s unique strengths and opportunities for becoming a Water Sensitive City.
Strategic opportunities identified in Bogor for leveraging improved urban water practices included households’ use of multiple water sources, an abundance of urban lakes, and the city’s ‘green and cool’ identity.
The multidisciplinary research team is now integrating the results of the benchmarking workshop with their insights from a series of visioning workshops to inform a strategy for Bogor Raya to leapfrog towards a water sensitive future.