Creating Supply Resiliency with the Water Integration Tool

Creating Supply Resiliency with the Water Integration Tool
bill fernandez, pe dan rodrigo
CDM Smith’s Water Integration Tool is helping forward-thinking utilities evaluate the comprehensive benefits of integrated water resources management and setting a new standard in strategic planning and policy analyses.  

Tradi­tion­ally, water, wastewater and stormwater have been managed indi­vid­u­ally. While this paradigm has mostly served munic­i­pal­i­ties well in the past, a number of drivers (like rising cost of infra­struc­ture and operations, limited fresh water supplies, flooding and droughts, and increasing envi­ron­men­tal regulations) are making this siloed approach less sustainable.

In contrast, the One Water approach is an emerging framework for the integrated management of water resources to meet multiple goals: improved utility system reliability, optimized operations for cost savings, climate resiliency, and enhanced envi­ron­men­tal protection and sustain­abil­ity. One Water seeks to optimize existing fresh water supplies, reuse highly treated wastewater and capture stormwater. The One Water framework is also well-suited for encouraging part­ner­ships between regional and municipal agencies, and engagement of public stake­hold­ers.  

“Imple­men­ta­tion of One Water requires a systems thinking approach that can illustrate the linkages and inter­ac­tions between all of a region’s water resources, critical infra­struc­ture and operational constraints under a variety of future scenarios,” explains Dan Rodrigo, CDM Smith’s One Water Practice Leader.

To facilitate this, CDM Smith has developed a compre­hen­sive, state-of-the-art tool called Water Integration Tool (WIT) that can rapidly simulate water demands, water supplies, hydrology, conveyance, water and wastewater treatment, and impacts of stormwater and wastewater discharges to the environment. “WIT is allowing our water resources planners to identify multi-beneficial solutions and provide for overall cost-effec­tive­ness for our clients,” says Rodrigo.  

It’s often difficult for people to trust models because they can be complicated. WIT allows us to build intuitive scenarios centered around risk and key planning objectives, and then empowers stake­hold­ers to test them on their own computers or tablets.
bill fernandez, water resources engineer

What is WIT? How does it work?

WIT allows users select and run planning scenarios that combine uncer­tain­ties such as growth, changing climate, regulatory constraints, and technology improve­ments in treatment to determine a range of future system improve­ments and needs. Users can select different alter­na­tives and evaluate them under multiple metrics like system reliability, storage conditions, cost, energy require­ments and greenhouse gas emissions, and receiving water quality.

WIT’s object-oriented programming and pre-programed modules allow users to build an entire integrated system at a community or regional watershed scale. The inter­ac­tions between these components are programmed using formulas or empirical rela­tion­ships. Once the model is programmed, intuitive navigation menus and interfaces allow users to clearly see benefits, trade-offs and timing of new alter­na­tives. 

In addition to its integrated resource simulation capa­bil­i­ties, WIT can help clients: 

  • Analyze new water storage operations and improve­ments
  • Develop drought contingency strategies
  • Evaluate alternative water supplies such as potable reuse, desali­na­tion and aquifer storage and recovery
  • Measure sustain­abil­ity objectives

What sets WIT apart?

WIT is not a replacement for more detailed, single-purpose hydrologic and hydraulic models that are used in our water industry. Rather, it should be looked at as a tool that can integrate insights acquired from these detailed models with potential changes in system infra­struc­ture and management to aid in decision-making and garner stakeholder support.  

“Our number one goal with WIT is trans­parency. It’s often difficult for people to trust models because they can be complicated to use and the underlying rela­tion­ships and depen­den­cies are hidden from view. WIT allows us to build intuitive scenarios centered around risk and key planning objectives, and then empowers stakeholders to test them on their own computers or tablets,” says , Bill Fernandez, CDM Smith’s Water Resources Modeling and Decision Support Discipline Leader.  

With that goal in mind, Fernandez says one of the most impressive features of WIT is its ability to run multiple scenarios in real time and in mere seconds—a feat that competing planning models cannot accomplish. By giving clients real-time access to explore “what-if” scenarios and observe the changes in outcome, it allows them to better understand their future water resources needs and develop a strategy for key areas of investments.   

Willian Fernandez Willian Fernandez
Our number one goal with WIT is trans­parency.  WIT empowers stake­hold­ers and staff to test alter­na­tives on their own devices.
Bill Fernandez Water Resources Modeling and Decision Support Discipline Leader
Dan Rodrigo Dan Rodrigo
WIT allows our planners to identify multi-beneficial solutions that deliver system reliability, increase sustain­abil­ity, improve health and provide cost-effec­tive­ness.
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