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    Review of 'The Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic and Weather Conditions on Water Environment, a Case Study in Istanbul and London/South-east England'

    The Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic and Weather Conditions on Water Environment, a Case Study in Istanbul and London/South-east EnglandCrossref
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    The Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic and Weather Conditions on Water Environment, a Case Study in Istanbul and London/South-east England

    The Covid-19 Pandemic affects not only populations around the world but also the environment and natural resources. Lockdowns and restricted new lifestyles have had wide ranging impacts on the environment (e.g., on air quality in cities). Although hygiene and disinfection procedures and precautions are effective ways to protect people from Covid-19, they have important consequences for water usage and resources especially given the increasing impacts of climate change on rainfall patterns, water use and resources. Climate change and public health issues may compound one another and so we used a DPSIR Framework to scope the main factors that may interact to affect water use and resources (in the form of reservoirs) using evidence from Istanbul, Turkey with some discussion of the comparative situation in the UK and elsewhere. We modified initial views on the framework to account for the regional, city and community level experiences. We noted water consumption in Istanbul has been increasing over the last two decades (except, it appears, in times of very low rainfall/drought); that there were increases in water consumption in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic; and, despite some increase in rainfall, water levels in reservoirs appeared to decrease during lockdowns (for a range of reasons). We also noted, through a new simple way of visualising the data, that a low resource capacity might be recurring every 6 or 7 years in Istanbul. We made no attempt in this paper to quantify the relative contribution that climate change, population growth etc are making to water consumption and reservoir levels as we were focused here on scoping those social, environmental and economic factors that appear to play a role in potential water stress and on developing a DPSIR Framework that could aid both subsequent quantitative studies and the development of policy and adaptive management options for Istanbul and other large complex conurbations (such as London and south-east England). If there are periodic water resource issues and temperatures rise as expected in climate projections with an accompanying increase in the duration of hot spells the subsequent additional stress on water systems might make managing future public health emergencies, such as a pandemic, even more difficult.

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      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      water,adaptive management,covid-19,Environmental science,Climate change,patterns of use,Water resources,water management,climate

      Review text

      The authors present a paper, in which they examined how unexpected situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic might affect water usage and availability. Although the paper is well-written and well-structured, I do have some concerns about the paper, which merit further attention.


      My first comment relates to the usage of the DPSIR framework. I agree with authors that the application of the DPSIR framework for signaling differences in water consumption patterns during the pandemic. Since climate change and covid-19 are two different drivers (van der Voorn et al, 2020) which manifest themselves at different time scales, including their impacts, there lies a major challenge in obtaining some separate evidence that the pandemic restrictions affected human activity in Istanbul for which they examined air quality parameters, and these suggest air pollution in Istanbul was lower in 2020 than in 2019 indicating decreased human activity consistent with Covid-19 restrictions. However, in order to distinguish between the impacts of these two drivers, I believe the current set of indicators is not sufficient and therefore, I have two suggestions for improvement:

      • In order to provide more evidence on “waste”, the authors could consider Wastewater-Based Epidemiology, which could be especially informative given that asymptomatic and oligosymptomatic infections are unlikely to be detected during clinical surveillance  see e.g., Bivins et al (2020) and Bhattacharya et al (2021)
      • Since people were in lockdown, they may have ordered products and services online. This would increase (slightly) traffic patterns and at least demand for transportation, which in turn increase CO2 emissions.

      In addition, looking at the different time scales to be considered, the DPSIR framework depicted in Figure 1 seems to be a static representation of its DPSIR components. So, in light of the research objective, a more dynamic representation would be required to capture the dynamics across different time scales.

      My second concern relates to the comparability of the Turkish case with other cases. In my opinion, there are indeed limited comparisons possible, if not impossible between Istanbul and other countries at present due to lack of data availability, as the authors stated. However, it is not just because of a lack of data but also different national characteristics in terms of socio-ecological, socio-economic, socio-technical, and governance aspects. Hence, it requires a solid framework for comparison, which accounts for these differences and similarities, to make any statements on comparability. These aspects could be interpreted as coping capacities. Van der Voorn and de Jong et al (2021) developed a framework for such a comparative analysis.

      My final concern relates to the need for new management plans. This would require adaptive management methodologies like for example the Backcasting Adaptive Management methodology (van der Voorn et al, 2012, 2017) or a comprehensive multi-target backcasting approach (van der Voorn et al 2020), which combines the strengths of multicriteria analysis, nexus approaches and backcasting, for supporting a transition to zero GHG emissions The former methodology can help decision makers to develop robust adaptive management plans, whereas the latter allows them to conduct a qualitative environmental assessment of scenarios to identify conflicts and synergies in regard to a broad range of environmental targets (e.g., reduction of biodiversity loss, viable habitats for flora and fauna). I would like to encourage the authors to elaborate on how these methodologies could expand the DPSIR framework in light of the research objective of the paper.


      Recommended literature


      Bhattacharya, P., Kumar, M., Islam, M.T. et al. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in Communities Through Wastewater Surveillance—a Potential Approach for Estimation of Disease Burden. Curr Pollution Rep 7, 160–166 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40726-021-00178-4


      van der Voorn, T.; de Jong, M. Cope or Perish? Managing Tipping Points in Developing Coping Strategies for Emergency Response during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Outbreak in Europe. COVID 20211, 39-70. https://doi.org/10.3390/covid1010005


      Bivins A, North D, Ahmad A, Ahmed W, Alm E, Been F, et al. Wastewater-based epidemiology: global collaborative to maximize contributions in the fight against COVID-19. Environ Sci Technol. 2020;54(13):7754–7. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c02388


      Tom van der Voorn, Caroline van den Berg, Prosun Bhattacharya, Jaco Quist. Never Waste a Crisis: Drawing First Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic to Tackle the Water Crisis. ACS ES&T Water 2021, (1) , 8-10. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsestwater.0c00041


      Van der Voorn, T., Quist, J., Pahl-Wostl, C. et al. Envisioning robust climate change adaptation futures for coastal regions: a comparative evaluation of cases in three continents. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 22, 519–546 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-015-9686-4


      Tom van der Voorn, Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Jaco Quist, (2012) Combining backcasting and adaptive management for climate adaptation in coastal regions: A methodology and a South African case study,

      Futures, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2011.11.003 .


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