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When water becomes a threat: Risk assessment and risk management plans for floods and drinking water in Swedish practice
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. (Miljöanalys)
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
När vatten blir ett hot : Riskbedömningar och riskhanteringsplaner för översvämning och dricksvatten i svensk praktik (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Water is an essential but vulnerable resource. A shortage of good quality drinking water is a threat to human health and society as a whole. Abundance of water in the form of floods can also be a serious threat which can have consequences for the drinking water supply. To reduce these risks there is a need for systematic risk reduction. In the last decades a risk management approach has been developed in the management of both flood and drinking water risks. This means that a reactive, ad hoc management is being replaced by a more proactive and systematic approach where risks are analysed and evaluated as a basis for prioritising counter-measures. The complex nature of water issues has also made it evident that there is a need for a holistic view of the management, involving a variety of actors and sectors. An integrated management approach to floods and water resources has emerged.

This thesis aims to examine how local level risk management, especially risk assessments, of floods and drinking water supply have been or can be performed in practice in Sweden. The existing practices have been characterised in relation to current risk management frameworks. Furthermore, the thesis aims to investigate how the effects of flood on drinking water supply have been considered in risk assessment methods and in flood risk management plans, as well as whether flood and drinking water risks have been considered in an integrated manner. The studies are based on interviews with flood risk managers in Swedish municipalities and Swedish water producers as well as on document studies of risk assessment methods and flood risk management plans.

There are large variations between different municipalities and water producers in how, and to what extent, risk assessments have been performed. Some have performed very little, if any, risk assessment while others have worked systematically. The tools used are often those that are promoted by national agencies and are often less advanced than those described in the literature. The risk assessments do not always cover all relevant aspects of the risk and few actors have discussed an acceptable risk level. Flood risk assessments focus mostly on the exposure of objects to flood and investigate the consequences of such an exposure only to a limited extent. The incomplete risk assessments may result in a biased view of the risk which in turn can lead to poor decision-making. The theoretical knowledge about risk management is in many cases low and there is still often a practical approach. Strategic and holistic approaches are mostly lacking.

The consequences of flood on drinking water supply are not known in detail and are not considered in detail in risk assessments commonly used in Sweden. There is an awareness of the need to coordinate the management of flood and water resources. However, despite the good intentions regarding integration, there are few signs in the risk assessments and risk management plans that integration is actually occurring.

Both the risk management approach and integrated management have started to be implemented in Swedish flood and drinking water risk management. It is however on a basic level and it is still a long way to go. Further guidance and knowledge about risk management as well as commitment from and collaboration among all actors concerned is needed to make this development possible.

Abstract [sv]

Vatten är en livsnödvändig men sårbar resurs. Brist på dricksvatten av god kvalitet är ett allvarligt hot mot människors hälsa och för hela samhället. Även överflöd av vatten i form av översvämningar kan vara ett allvarligt hot och kan bland annat får konsekvenser för dricksvattenförsörjningen. För att minska dessa risker finns det behov av systematiskt riskreducerande arbete. De senaste decennierna har systematisk riskhantering (risk management approach) utvecklats inom hanteringen av översvämningar och dricksvattenförsörjning. Detta innebär att en reaktiv och osystematisk hantering ersätts med en mer proaktiv och systematisk hantering baserad på analys och utvärdering av risker som stöd för beslutsfattande. Den komplexitet som vattenfrågor omfattar har också gjort det tydligt att det finns behov av en helhetsyn på hur vatten hanteras och att ett flertal aktörer och sektorer behöver involveras. Teorier om integrerad hantering (integrated management) har vuxit fram och börjat implementeras.

Syftet med denna avhandling är att undersöka hur riskhantering, särskilt riskbedömningar, på lokal nivå utförs eller kan utföras i praktiken i Sverige. Praktiken har beskrivits och karakteriserats i förhållande till befintliga ramverk om riskhantering. Dessutom är syftet att undersöka hur konsekvenser av översvämningar på dricksvattenförsörjningen behandlas i metoder för riskbedömning och riskhanteringsplaner för översvämning liksom att studera om risker relaterade till översvämningar och dricksvatten har behandlats på ett integrerat sätt. Studierna är baserad på intervjuer med översvämningshanterare i svenska kommuner och svenska vattenproducenter samt dokumentstudier av metoder för riskbedömning och riskhanteringsplaner för översvämning.

Det är stora skillnader mellan hur och i vilken omfattning olika kommuner och vattenproducenter har gjort riskbedömningar. Vissa har knappt gjort någon riskbedömning alls medan andra har arbetat mer systematiskt. De verktyg som används är ofta de som finns i handböcker från svenska myndigheter och är ofta mindre avancerade än vad som beskrivs i litteraturen. Riskbedömningarna täcker inte alltid all relevanta aspekter av risken och det är få som har diskuterat vad som är en acceptabel risknivå. Översvämningsbedömningarna har fokuserat på vilka objekt som exponeras vid en översvämning och möjliga konsekvenser på drabbade objekt har undersökts i mycket begränsad utsträckning. Ofullständiga riskbedömningar kan ge en felaktig bild av risken och därmed vara ett inkomplett underlag för beslutsfattande. Den teoretiska kunskapen om riskhantering är i många fall låg och många har en praktisk inställning till riskhanteringen. Det saknas oftast strategi och helhetstänkande.

Kunskapen om konsekvenser av översvämning på dricksvattenförsörjningen är begränsad och behandlas inte heller i detalj i de metoder för riskbedömning som är mest vanligt förekommande i Sverige. Det finns en medvetenhet om behovet av att koordinera hanteringen av översvämning och vattenresurser. Trots de goda intentionerna om integrering visar riskbedömningar och riskhanteringsplaner få tecken på att integrering sker i praktiken.

Både systematisk riskhantering och integrerad hantering är synsätt som har börjat utvecklas och implementeras inom svensk hantering av översvämningar och dricksvattenförsörjning. Det sker dock fortfarande på en relativt grundläggande nivå och det är en lång väg kvar. Det finns behov av ytterligare vägledning och mer kunskap om riskhantering liksom engagemang från och samarbete mellan alla berörda aktörer för att stödja vidare utveckling.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 57 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1416
Keyword [en]
Flood, Drinking water supply, Risk management, Risk assessment, Flood risk management plan (FRMP), Integrated flood management (IFM), Tools and methods, Practice compared to theory, Sweden, Municipalities, Interview study, Document study
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301940ISBN: 978-91-554-9673-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-301940DiVA: diva2:955676
Public defence
2016-10-14, Hambergsalen, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-22 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-09-22
List of papers
1. Drinking water risk assessment in practice: the case of Swedish drinking water producers at risk from floods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Drinking water risk assessment in practice: the case of Swedish drinking water producers at risk from floods
2016 (English)In: Environment Systems and Decisions, ISSN 2194-5403, E-ISSN 2194-5411, Vol. 36, 239-252 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To achieve a safe and reliable drinking water supply, water producers need to manage a large range of risks regarding both water quality and quantity. A risk management approach where risks are systematically identified and handled in a preventive manner is promoted by the World Health Organization and supported by researchers and drinking water experts worldwide. Risk assessment is an important part of such a management approach, and a variety of tools for risk assessment are described in the literature. There is, however, little knowledge of how drinking water risk assessment is performed in practice, including which tools that are actually used. This study investigates the use of risk assessment tools, and the approach to risk management, on a local level in the Swedish water sector. It is based on interviews with key persons from a targeted selection of water producers. We find that the application of tools as well as the approach to risk assessment and management differs considerably between the water producers. The tools most frequently used are mainly the ones promoted or required by Swedish national organizations. Although many of the water producers have done some kind of risk assessment, most have not implemented a risk management approach. Furthermore, their knowledge of the concepts of risk and risk management is often limited. The largest challenge identified is to prioritize risk assessment, so that it is actually performed and then used as a basis for managing risk in a systematic way.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2016
Keyword
Drinking water, Risk assessment in practice, Tools and methods, Risk management, Interview study, Sweden, Swedish water producers
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301882 (URN)DOI 10.1007/s10669-016-9588-3 (DOI)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-25 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-08-26
2. Flood riskassessment – Practices in flood prone Swedish municipalities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Flood riskassessment – Practices in flood prone Swedish municipalities
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, E-ISSN 2212-4209, Vol. 18, 206-217 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Risk assessments are important to ensure efficient and effective flood risk management. Methods and strategies for flood risk assessment are described in the literature, but less is known about how assessments are actually performed. We have studied local flood risk assessments in Sweden by interviewing flood risk managers in municipalities and analyzing documentation of flood risk assessment efforts.

There is a large variation between municipalities in how flood risk assessment has been done. The efforts made in association with the EU Floods Directive together with a Government Commission about a flood in Lake Mälaren are the most advanced assessments. Only a few of the municipalities have done comparable assessments. Generally, however, there is a lack of experience and theoretical knowledge about concepts and methods of flood risk assessment in the municipalities. In the assessments studied, the flood it self had been rather well defined in hazard maps. The consequences of a flood had been studied in the larger projects but only by half of the municipalities. It is mainly direct, tangible consequences that have been included. It is mainly the exposure of assets that has been investigated while little attention has been paid to vulnerability. To improve flood risk assessment in Sweden there is a need for knowledge and resources in the municipalities. Prioritization and motivation are needed to actually perform the assessments. National guidelines for may be helpful to guide municipalities in this work and to have more uniform risk assessment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Flood riskassessment, Practice, Swedish municipalities, Interviewstudy
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301884 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-25 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-08-26
3. Assessment of Drinking Water Risks Due to Flood – Possibility of Integrating Methods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessment of Drinking Water Risks Due to Flood – Possibility of Integrating Methods
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Floods are complex events and it is widely acknowledged that to manage risks associated with such events a holistic approach is needed. Sectors and activities need to cooperate and coordinate activities. Integrated flood management (IFM) is discussed in the literature and is being implemented in practice. To investigate integration between flood management and a sector commonly affected by floods, we have studied risk assessment methods for floods and for drinking water supply in Sweden. We have analysed nine methods provided by agencies or organisations to see how these consider potential effects of floods on drinking water. For the analysis we use a conceptual model of the assessment chain flood – drinking water system – consumer. We explore possibilities of combining methods for flood and drinking water risk assessment to achieve a more integrated assessment.

We see that effects of floods on drinking water are considered in the methods but in a general way. Although the flood risk assessment methods investigate the potential exposure of assets, the consequences of this exposure are only included in one method and only for physical impact, not water quality risk.  In the drinking water methods flood is considered as one among many causes of disturbances and not investigated in detail. More detailed analyses of the actual effects of flood on drinking water are needed as well as consequences for the consumers.

We believe that it is possible to combine methods for flood and drinking water risk assessment to achieve a more holistic image of relevant risks.

Keyword
Integrated flood management (IFM), Risk assessment, Flood, Drinking water, Consequences of flood on drinking water
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301888 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-25 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-08-26
4. Significance of EU Floods Directive Risk Management Plans for Drinking Water Supply
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Significance of EU Floods Directive Risk Management Plans for Drinking Water Supply
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Flood is a threat to safe drinking water supply. To reduce and manage the risks of floods, EU has adopted the Floods Directive. The Floods Directive is linked to and should be coordinated with the EU Water Framework Directive. Securing drinking water supply is an important aspect for management of both water resources and floods. Recently the first cycle of the Floods Directive working procedure was concluded with the establishment of Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMP). We have investigated how the FRMPs made in Sweden consider the potential consequences of flood on drinking water supply as well as if the plans show signs of integration of flood risk management with water resources management and drinking water supply.  Drinking water supply is well represented in the objectives and measures suggested in the FRMPs. However, the knowledge of the consequences of flood on drinking water is poor. Many of the suggested objectives and measures are concerned with providing more knowledge. The plans show an awareness of the importance of coordination and integration with other sectors and actors but there are few signs that integration actually has taken place.

National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301890 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-25 Created: 2016-08-25 Last updated: 2016-08-26

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