Piloting Water Safety Plans
Do we really need water safety plans (WSPs)? Are they worth the additional investments? How do we mainstream WSPs in ADB projects? These questions are at the core of discussions in this morning’s Water CoP Catchment session, where EASS Satoshi Ishii and WSP expert Dan Deere shared the results of a PDA that tested WSP in the on-going PPTA for Chongqing Urban-Rural Infrastructure Development Demonstration II Project, following a draft guidance note developed by ADB in 2011.
A given, but usually forgotten
Many water development interventions focus on infrastructure, with water quality already a given. In many cases however, water quality becomes an afterthought. Water quality testing is rarely done, or traditionally undertaken after the project, when contamination may have already occurred.
WSPs come in at an early stage, determine flaws, and corrects before people are exposed to health risks. “They offer risk assessments and list monitoring requirements for water utilities,” says Dan Deere. They are an important measure in providing safe drinking water to cities and communities. Dan cites the pilot cases of the Wanzhou Water Co. Ltd. and the bigger Chongqing II projects in the PRC as prime examples of successful WSP applications, with the benefits far outweighing the costs.
Issues and lessons
While sustainability concerns, overt expression of risks, cultural considerations, and duplication issues arose in the pilot, implementation of WSPs can be crucial in the success of water projects. Dan concludes with some words of advice.
First, it is important to choose the WSP guidance document appropriate to the project as there are various versions from different agencies. Second, standards or guidelines and the scope of the WSP should be clearly set; WSPs cover many levels of health priorities, from dealing with bacteria to chemical and viral contaminations. And third is that WSPs must be considered early on in project conceptualization.