Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.
Sudden or progressive change in the environment adversely affects the lives or living conditions of people who may have been displaced from their origin. When environmental degradation occurs or sudden onset hazards impact vulnerable areas, people may be forced to move and relocate to areas that then require new infrastructure. The new infrastructure should be built to be resilient and strong enough to endure the impact of future natural hazards.
Excluded people hold the least power to influence decision-making whilst decisions regarding construction are usually made with people who hold significant relative power. Normally excluded people should be consulted regarding potential environmental impacts and regarding their personal needs and dependencies on the local environment.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Construction of water treatment facilities can lead to the following environmental impacts:
· Harm to aquatic ecosystems
· Unsustainable depletion of natural resources.
· Air, water, soil pollution and damage to ecosystems
· Blockage of drainage channels and watercourses
· Increase in waste dumping and/or waste going to landfill
· Increase in greenhouse gas emissions
· Reduction in surface water infiltration
· Stripping of natural vegetation cover and soil loss
Environmental impacts of constructing water treatment facilities often include the risk of contaminating aquatic ecosystems. They also include potential over-abstraction of water resources to provide water for households and industry, and unsustainable use of other resources to provide construction materials. Air, water, and soil pollution are also common impacts as is blockage of drainage channels and watercourses; increase in waste dumping and/or waste going to landfill, and increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Construction activities can lead to a reduction in surface water infiltration and groundwater recharge due to excess or soil compaction. Stripping of natural vegetation cover and reduction in soil quality, nutrients, and ultimately soil loss can also occur.
Construction materials can consume non-renewable or low-regenerative-capacity natural resources impacting negatively the areas where they are extracted. For example, deforestation in order to obtain wood or river banks erosion dur to sand extraction activities.
Environmental impacts of constructing water treatment can be reduced by careful site selection and accurate water use forecasting, supported with an effective Construction Management Plan that ensures:
· Sustainable sourcing of materials
· Identify and eliminate potential air, water, soil pollution and damage to ecosystems
· Identification and protection of drainage channels and watercourses
· Minimise waste
· Select lower greenhouse gases producing materials or methods
· Minimise vegetation stripping
· Use of efficient, well-maintained plant and equipment
Environmental impacts of constructing water treatment can be reduced by careful site selection, with a specialist assessment of aquatic ecosystems, identifying and planning for their protection.
Accurate water use forecasting, ensuring water is not over abstracted from any single location. Where possible, construction in sensitive areas should be avoided and expert local advice sought to minimize potential impacts of whichever site is ultimately selected. Land use should be planned carefully to avoid unnecessary encroachment onto natural ecosystems, which can also lead to transmission of diseases between animals and humans during the installation of WASH infrastructure or during its use.
Construction impacts on the environment can be reduced through developing a strong Construction Management Plan that is well impleented and closely monitored to ensure sustainable sourcing of natural resources to use as construction materials; identification of potential air, water, soil pollution and damage to ecosystems, and method statements to prevent pollution and damage; identification of existing drainage channels and watercourses and method statements to prevent their blockage; assessments of waste sources and volumes and method statements to minimise waste, maximise re-use and to prevent dumping and minimise waste going to landfill; identification of low greenhouse gas-producing materials, such as alternatives to using high volumes of cement; identifying and protecting existing surface water infiltration / groundwater recharge; carefully planning and minimising stripping of natural vegetation cover and soil loss – replanting wherever possible; use of efficient, well maintained construction plant and equipment. Materials lifecycles, from extraction to eventual re-use or disposal, should be considered. The initial design should promote future recycling, reusing, or repurposing.
Materials selection could be diversified to minimize dependencies on a single source. When conducting any work nearby a surface water source, control any changes in the banks to avoid spills that could create an exit for the water and deplete the source. For example, when building intake structures verify that there are no strong erosion events that could deviate the water somewhere else and dry the extraction source. When new equipment is being installed or there are maintenance works, verify that contaminants are not being released to the surrounding environment.
In many countries, the environmental impacts of constructing water treatment facilities include the unsustainable depletion of natural resources to provide construction materials. They also frequently include air, water, and soil pollution and damage to ecosystems; blockage of drainage channels and watercourses; increase in waste dumping and/or waste going to landfill, and increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Construction activities can lead to a reduction in surface water infiltration and groundwater depletion due to excess or soil compaction.
Stripping of natural vegetation cover and reduction in soil quality, nutrients, and ultimately soil loss can also occur. Construction materials can consume non-renewable or low-regenerative-capacity natural resources impacting negatively the areas where they are extracted. For example, deforestation in order to obtain wood or river banks erosion due to sand extraction activities.
The UK has reduced this impact over time through undertaking environmental impact assessments to fully understand the potential impacts on natural resources, rivers, air, soil, and groundwater, and then developing plans to avert or substantially reduce these potential impacts.
Percentage of construction/equipment installation activities planned and executed activities that integrate measures to protect water sources from construction waste.
Prevention of environmental damage
Time, expertise, and budget for developing, implementing, and monitoring a good practice Construction Management Plan.