The rapid population growth in cities, coupled with a changing climate pose great challenges for both people and nature. An integrated water management approach is required to achieve resilience while creating a livable urban environment.
The recent water crisis in Cape Town is yet another reminder of the value of urban water resilience. In this regard, GWP Mediterranean designed and leads the implementation of ‘Water for the City’, a pilot project focusing on the promotion of a holistic approach in urban water management, in the coastal city of Alexandroupolis, Northeastern Greece.
“Water for the City” is a 3-year multi-stakeholder pilot project, with a two-fold aim:
to increase water supply for the wider metropolitan city through a sustainable technical solution which optimises the existing infrastructure (the water supply dam); and
to promote green-blue infrastructure and sustainable water use by engaging authorities, stakeholders, educating students & teachers, raising awareness on the urban water cycle and efficient water use.
The main partners are the Municipality of Alexandroupolis and Municipal Enterprise of Water Supply & Sanitation of Alexandroupolis (DEYAA), while the project is financed through a $1.2million grant by the Coca-Cola Foundation. The coastal city of Alexandroupolis, with a population of approximately 85,000 inhabitants, was selected as a pilot, as it faces both salinisation of coastal aquifers and extreme weather phenomena, ranging from floods to droughts, similar to numerous cities in the Mediterranean region and beyond.
Through an integrated urban water management approach, the project offers a tangible alternative to new infrastructure, revisits the urban water cycle by integrating non conventional water resources locally, and reconsiders the way water is used and reused, through the engagement of stakeholders. Project innovations include the technical solution which increases the dam’s water capacity and also a serious game for capacity building in Integrated Urban Water Resources Management.
Namely, the technical innovation pertains to the installation of self-standing gates in the dam spillway, a cost-efficient sustainable solution, which increases the reservoir capacity by 14% and reduces water losses due to overflow during intense rainfalls. Currently, the tendering process is underway, and the application is expected to conclude by the end of 2018.
The "Water for the City" serious game is a modern capacity building tool, which increases awareness on the challenges of urban water resilience in a context of climate change. The Game aims to promote collaboration among stakeholders – from decision makers to key users and civil society – and enable them to respond to current and future needs by implementing green - blue infrastructure solutions. This capacity building tool seeks to become a game changer in stakeholder engagement for sustainable urban water management in the Mediterranean and beyond. The first game sessions are organised for Q1 2018.
To complement the project aims, educational activities are implemented in all local schools, promoting a new water culture to contribute to a water secure future for the area. A communication campaign to engage citizens in a responsible water behavior will unfold this year, spreading the message and ways to achieve urban water resilience. More information on the project can be found here: www.waterforthecity.net