Water businesses have always sought to plan for drought-resilient urban water supply systems, especially in areas with extreme climate variability. The recently completed Lower Hunter Water Plan was developed to support population and business growth, and ensure reliable water supplies in drought. As well as introducing Water Wise Rules to encourage water conservation in normal conditions, the plan identified a portfolio (or combination) of drought response measures to be deployed progressively in a drought as water storage levels drop. The keys to the success of the Plan were thorough consultation with stakeholders, and collaborative analysis facilitating transparent evaluation of trade-offs among options and portfolios. A multi-criteria decision analysis process guided the assessment of the drought response options against both quantitative and qualitative criteria, and the assembly and analysis of portfolios. The process integrated the assessment of social and environmental criteria with cost effectiveness analysis, along with analysis of contextual uncertainties and risks, to determine the resilience of the options under different scenarios. The outcome was a portfolio of drought response options that best met the weighted criteria and satisfied their objectives.

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