News & Media
News and Media
David Purkey, of SEI-U.S., speaks about WEAP at World Water Week. SEI PHOTO/Ylva Rylander
SEI’s decision-making tool helps governments, researchers and NGOs understand the implications of different policy options.
Climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, and wasteful consumption are all putting strains on the world’s water supplies – and cities, which will be home to up to 60 per cent of the population by 2030, may face particularly big challenges.
Smart planning will be crucial, and that, in turn, requires good data and sophisticated analytical tools to assess human impacts on freshwater ecosystems and provide guidance on sustainable management of freshwater resources. A seminar at World Water Week 2011 on Aug. 25 showcased an array of such tools, including SEI’s Water Evaluation And Planning system (WEAP).
Developed by SEI’s U.S. Center, WEAP is a user-friendly software tool that takes an integrated approach to water resources planning, looking at both supply and demand issues and connecting with other modeling tools to incorporate data on climate change, ecosystems, and more.
Provided free of charge to developing country governments, academics and NGOs, and for a modest fee to others, WEAP is used in over 170 countries around the world, said David Purkey, director of the U.S. Center’s Water Group, who presented WEAP at the seminar.
A wide range of applications
WEAP users are an “extremely varied community”, Purkey said, but most are exploring broad planning and policy questions over the medium to long term.
“For example, a number of water utilities in the United States use WEAP explore the implications of climate change and socio-economic development on the performance of various demand management and supply augmentation strategies,” he said. “Water planners in Jordan are using WEAP to support the development of a national water plan. In Colombia, WEAP is being used to guide a multi-agency river basin planning effort.”
A versatile, easy-to-use tool
WEAP’s strengths, Purkey explained, lie in its transparent and user-friendly interface; the degree to which it integrates hydrologic, water management, water demand, and environmental considerations in a single tool; and the ease with which WEAP can be extended via integration with other modeling tools through its Application Programming Interface, or API.
“These make WEAP a very powerful modeling platform which is a real value to users,” he said.
SEI is directly involved in only a small fraction of WEAP applications, but it does provide support to all users, and now Purkey’s team is developing new tools for the online WEAP User Forum, as well as online videos to introduce new and important features of the software.
“We welcome all interactions with our users, as they help us identify new features that would improve the software,” he said.
Bringing tools to decision-makers
At the end of the tools seminar, Fred Boltz, of Conservation International, led a panel discussion on ways to integrate decision support tools such as WEAP into policymaking, especially in urban settings. An objective of the discussion was to make recommendations that may be brought to wider audiences, such as the World Water Forum, for improved decision-making within freshwater conservation and water resources management frameworks.