The Options Assessment Framework was developed to assist the Melbourne metropolitan water industry in planning for the future in the context of uncertainties such as climate, population growth, economic activity and unexpected shocks.
The challenge of ensuring water security has become increasingly significant. Water service providers are seeking ‘diversified portfolios’ and ‘flexible strategies’ as a means of providing improved security and resilience at reduced costs. The emergence of this new way of thinking represents a challenge to existing conceptual and analytical models underlying resource planning decisions.
The Options Assessment Framework seeks to address this challenge in a practical manner. In broad terms, this framework draws together three key streams of thinking:
- Characterising uncertainties as trends or shocks in order to distinguish and better respond to their impacts.
- Indentifying scenario paths that bring together a combination of trends and enable consideration of the impact of that combination on the water supply and demand balance (i.e. whether or not a shortfall exists).
- Developing investment strategies that set a hierarchy for the sequencing of types of measures. Measures can include large scale options such as dams or combinations of small scale options, such as alternative water schemes. In this way, the Framework enables a fair comparison between large and small options for managing water supply and demand.
This project was a key input into the development of a 50 year strategy for Melbourne’s water resources based on the principles of Integrated Water Cycle Management. It demonstrated the value of considering a wide range of uncertainties when planning for the future.