Jan 31, 2008

AwwaRF to Study How Climate Change Affects Drinking Water Supply

Initiative will allocate $500,000 to fund ongoing research

The Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF) announced a strategic initiative that will immediately allocate $500,000 to fund ongoing research on how climate change is affecting the quality and quantity of the public’s drinking water supply.

“AwwaRF is committing to a sustained, multi-year approach to evaluating climate change so we may ultimately provide solutions to the challenges that climate change presents to our nation’s drinking water suppliers,” Robert C. Renner, AwwaRF executive director, said.

AwwaRF’s strategic initiative was precipitated by a two-day climate change workshop in early January, hosted by AwwaRF and co-sponsored by the Water Environment Research Foundation and the UK Water Industry Research Association. Attendees included climate change experts and water utility representatives and managers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

The objective of the international workshop was to identify cooperative international research projects that will assist the water industry in planning for and managing dramatic variations in annual water supplies resulting from climate change.

The plenary session consisted of a summary from water industry representatives on climate change research and utility initiatives already in place to address the effects of climate change on water quality and quantity.

Following the plenary session, workshop attendees formed working groups to identify the most pressing research needs in the areas of water quality, water resources, infrastructure, energy and environment, management and communications.

As a result of these discussions, attendees identified more than 50 research needs and priorities, including the following highest-priority needs:

• Evaluating impacts of underground carbon dioxide on groundwater supplies,
• Interpreting climate change models for water supply,
• Designing infrastructure systems of the future,
• Providing vulnerability assessment and risk management tools, and
• Optimizing resource recovery and integrated processes.

“Thanks to a collaborative approach from water managers representing drinking water, wastewater and storm water interests in North America, Europe and Australia, we were able to identify the most pressing climate change research projects related to our industries,” Renner said. “Although the funds from AwwaRF’s strategic initiative will serve as important seed money, it will take a collaborative effort among drinking and wastewater subscribers and associations, their research partners, and the federal government to find the funding to ensure research on key climate change projects moves forward."