Hamilton City Council’s Three Waters Resilience Study is a finalist in the Excellence in a Water Project Category at the 2022 IPWEA NZ Asset Management Excellence Awards.

Hamilton City Council has started to incorporate a holistic asset management approach into its 3 waters operational policy and strategy. This 3 waters resilience study aimed to assist HCC in understanding risks and actively adapting to improve 3 waters resilience in the face of growth pressures and a changing environment. This study helped HCC better understand current level of resilience at both strategic and operational levels. This study developed a series of tools for HCC to document and monitor potential risks, assess the vulnerability of 3 waters assets, assess the resilience of 3 waters power and telecommunication systems and key contractors and supply chains. The results, together with the produced improvement plan helped improve HCC’s resilience following disruptive events.

This highly successful and collaborative project marked the start of HCCs journey to take on a service-focused, long-term, and risk and resilience management approach to managing its 3 waters assets and undertake actions to improve its resilience.

Work was undertaken in the early stages to understand the drivers and examine potential approaches to this study. A high-level resilience assessment, based on the UN Resilience Scorecard approach, provided HCC with an insight into the current state of resilience, and helped to determine where HCC should prioritise its efforts and scope a series of work packages for this study.

The outputs of these work packages have assisted HCC to further understand gaps and improve the resilience of its 3 waters assets and activities. This work has provided a number of tools, such as the vulnerability assessment, risk register and supply chain questionnaire, for HCC to utilise going forward. It has provided ways to measure success and an implementation plan to guide future work. HCC has been able to establish the ‘strategic framework and direction’ for resilience and a draft policy has been prepared which, once adopted, will provide direction and consistency to staff, ‘embedding resilience’ in their day-to-day work.

This study and work packages have achieved many things but are considered the ‘start of a journey’ to understand and work towards improving HCC’s current state of resilience. HCC have an opportunity to build on the momentum gained from this study, using the tools developed and implementing items in the improvement plan and policy, to make resilience part of its ‘business as usual’.

Asset Management Principles

This project is an exemplar of adopting and implementing asset management principles into the long-term and asset life cycle management strategic planning for 3 waters activities. It assisted HCC in improving their understanding and knowledge of the potential risks presented subject to natural hazards and climate change with respect to 3 waters activities and assets.

The risks included organisational, social, environmental, technical, economic, and operational risks. The developed risk register provided HCC with a template to continue documenting the risks relating to HCC 3 waters activities from a resilience perspective. HCC can use the register to assist in identifying and managing risks and putting appropriate actions/funding into place. The risk appetite/targets could help HCC identify gaps on the risk rating between residual risks and their targets. Using the developed dashboard, HCC can prioritise actions for improvement and demonstrate their progress over time.

Through this project, the concept of risk and resilience was incorporated into HCC’s life cycle asset management and decision-making process. The findings gained from the risk and resilience assessment of 3 waters activities and assets were integrated into Council’s Risk and Resilience Management Policy. The Policy outlines the approach to 3 waters activities planning and operational management to provide resilient, sustainable, efficient, and effective services that respond to changing needs and support an economically viable and prosperous city.  In addition, this policy outlines what HCC should do to ensure risk and resilience is incorporated into day-to-day operation and practices to be undertaken to assess, manage, and document risk and resilience of three waters activities and assets. By incorporating the 3 waters resilience into the Council policy and strategic planning, HCC will be more prepared and well equipped in the face of the changing environment.

This project demonstrated excellence in incorporating 3 waters resilience in a holistic approach. We developed a modified Resilience Scorecard for HCC 3 waters by tailoring and adopting the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities and to undertake a resilience scorecard assessment for the HCC 3 waters systems. The objective for completing the Resilience Scorecard was to: 1) Gain an overview of the current understanding and capability of HCC in terms of resilience; 2) Identify gaps in the high-level strategy planning from a resilience perspective. The Resilience Scorecard adopted the 10 Essentials and modifying/adding the questions in the UN scorecard with the focus on 3 waters systems and assets. The HCC resilience scorecard contains 65 questions in total.

Individual work packages included improving HCCs processes and procedures, such as the review of HCCs 3 waters design standards, drawing on best industry practice and examples from New Zealand and overseas to help HCC design more robust and resilient infrastructure for future generations.

HCC now have a clear 3 waters resilience policy, a comprehensive improvement plan which will guide future investment, and a series of recommendations for developing and improving their suite of tools, response plans and design standards which will result in more robust and resilient infrastructure and ultimately improved reliability of the service they provide to the people of Hamilton.