Climate Resiliency: Local Perspectives, Global Ideas, and the Upcoming International Water & Climate Forum

Backing for the 2015 International Water & Climate Forum comes from across the water utility spectrum, including drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), a U.S. association representing large publicly owned wastewater utilities, is a major supporter of the Forum and, as such, is helping organizers develop an agenda that includes key wastewater perspectives, ideas and contributions on climate resiliency. NACWA Vice President and Board member Adel Hagekhalil of the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation contributed his thoughts on the holistic “one water” approach to climate change.  His blog below is also found on the NACWA website.

As cities seek to redesign the way they manage water in response to changing climate conditions, it has become clear that a “one water” approach that unites drinking water, wastewater treatment, recycled water, and stormwater management efforts is the most beneficial to addressing many resiliency challenges while providing a wide range of community benefits.

LA Sanitation, which manages the City’s wastewater, stormwater and solid waste resources – is working closely with the City’s drinking water agency, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, to write and implement the One Water LA 2040 Plan that aims to increase local water supplies and improve water security in the context of climate change and resiliency. This citywide and regional water strategy encompasses groundwater remediation, stormwater capture and storage, green infrastructure, recycled water and conservation. Initiatives to maximize water recycling through indirect and non-potable reuse including groundwater recharge and the establishment of dual networks throughout the City for delivery of highly filtered recycled water to its customers, which include large parks, lakes and major industry. The LASAN’s four water reclamation plants produce and treat more than 350 mgd of wastewater, which has the potential to be recycled.

Green infrastructure projects that improve water quality in the City’s waterways are also a top priority. LA Sanitation added parking lots at the City zoo with permeable pavement and drought-tolerant landscaping; built a wetland park to treat urban runoff for the removal of pollutants such as trash, bacteria and metals while providing residents an urban refuge with native wildlife; and drained and restored an 13-acre lake to improve water quality while enhancing the community benefits in the area.

While Los Angeles has made significant progress toward climate resiliency, we are always looking for new options and ideas to advance our goals. Internationally, water and wastewater utilities facing similar challenges are undertaking initiatives that can provide valuable lessons for their peers. Whether its Rotterdam’s Benthemplein Water Square, Melbourne’s Kalkallo Stormwater Harvesting or the many novel ideas from the European Union-funded PREPARED project, everyone can gain from fresh perspectives.

An important conference coming up later this year, the 2015 International Water and Climate Forum will focus on what utilities are doing on the ground in their communities to implement climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. NACWA is partnering with the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and other water organizations in planning the event, which is scheduled for December 7-9 in San Diego. By highlighting best practices in action, this international gathering of water, wastewater and stormwater utility managers promises to be a great opportunity to unite water leaders in a holistic approach to the challenges of improving water sustainability and resilience in the urban environment. I recommend that you register today!


Adel Hagekhalil is a registered civil engineer with the State of California and a national Board Certified Environmental Engineer. Adel is currently an Assistant Director with the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation where he is responsible for the Bureau’s wastewater collection system management, storm water and watershed protection program, water quality compliance, and facilities and advance planning. Under his direction, the City has prepared an award winning “One Water” Water Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for the year 2020 which relies on public input and participation and integrates water supply, water reuse, water conservation and stormwater management with wastewater facilities planning through a regional watershed approach. Adel is leading the City’s effort in green infrastructure and multi-benefit projects and embarking on the City 2040 One Water LA Plan. Adel is currently a Board member and Vice President with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).More information is available at