Access to good quality water, in sufficient quantities, is fundamental to human health and a functional society. Therefore, the area is in focus for PhD Karin Sjöstrand.
Karin Sjöstrand is a researcher within the Swedish research programme Mistra InfraMaint. The programme aims to develop sustainable solutions for smart maintenance of infrastructure especially in areas such as municipal roads and water utilities.
“Society’s large dependence on water places a massive pressure on our freshwater resources”, states Karin Sjöstrand. “As a result, a reduced quality and quantity of freshwater is now considered to be one of the most critical global risks to society, with short and long-term effects on people, ecosystem services, biodiversity and the economic sectors that depend on a reliable water supply,”
In the autumn of 2020, she defended her doctoral thesis Decision support for sustainable water security. The overall aim of the thesis is to guide and support decision-makers on the road to an improved water security.
“I have focused on developing various forms of decision support methods, for decision-makers in both municipal water utilities and water dependent businesses. The provided methods offer different ways of evaluating and comparing management responses to the water-related challenges we face. They can help us reduce the water-related risks and identify the most cost-effective, socio-economic profitable or sustainable options while providing structure and transparency to decision-making”, says Karin Sjöstrand.
She participates in two of Misyta InfraMaint’s projects: 1.10 Asset management – from data to socioeconomic decision support and 1.12 Sustainable analysis for smart maintenance.
“Within 1.10, I have led a study where we have investigated how Swedish companies are affected financially by water supply disruptions. About 1,400 companies responded to a survey about their water supply and water usage. The main purpose was to provide data to improve assessments, comparisons and decisions on measures aiming to reduce the risk of future water disruption events”.
In project 1.12, Karin Sjöstrand will work together with Chalmers University of Technology and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) to further develop the decision support tool WISER (Water Investments for Sustainability Enhancement and Reliability) for the drinking water sector. It is an Excel-based tool that facilitates assessments of social, environmental, economic and technical effects of alternative drinking water options. The tool can thus be used to determine which measures are best from a sustainability perspective.