Education & planning are applied to combat issues associated with climate change
Last week, in his Inaugural Address, President Obama said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change.” While some may debate the boldness of the President’s declaration, the nation’s water utilities are taking steps to address challenges associated with climate change and extreme weather events.
The complex and expensive nature of sourcing, treating, storing and distributing safe and affordable drinking water necessitates that water utilities plan years in advance. Such planning is becoming even more critical given the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns and related impacts on water supplies. To that end, the Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) has conducted and is presently coordinating numerous studies on related topics. Its goal is to generate research-based data from which utilities and other interested parties can make informed, fact-based decisions as they plan for their future water needs.
“Due to the complexities and costs associated with supplying the public with safe and affordable drinking water, utilities are forced to look beyond immediate needs and plan well into the future to mitigate the effects of adverse weather events likely to occur as a result of climate change,” said Robert Renner, executive director of the WaterRF. “Over the years, we have invested in numerous studies and developed a variety of resources to help water utilities prepare for the challenges associated with climate change. Additionally, several other related projects are currently underway.”
Most notably, WaterRF operates and maintains The Climate Change Clearinghouse, a website that provides the water community with information and resources about climate change and extreme events and their impact on utility operations and short- and long-term planning. The Climate Change Clearinghouse provides information on a variety of critical issues including climate change science and climate change impacts related to changes in precipitation, temperature, sea levels and storm intensity and frequency.
“Research conducted by the Water Research Foundation helps water utility managers who provide water to more than 80% of the U.S. population to make informed decisions,” said Renner. “Moving forward, climate change and extreme weather events will continue to be one of our research priorities.”