Resiliency: Preparing for the New Normal

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – October 6, 2016 – Comment

As Matthew tracks towards the coast and hurricane season continues, the water industry (among others) must be prepared for any impending environmental dangers to our country in both the present and in the future. Some estimates predict it will cost utilities between $448 billion and $944 billion to respond to climate change issues from now through 2050. Events that were once considered to be ‘100-year’ events are happening with more and more frequency, and utilities must be prepared for a new normal.

Mid-Atlantic states are approaching the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, a storm which demonstrated how preparation can impact how quickly we recover from emergencies. Preparedness and resiliency mark the difference between a water utility inconvenience and a serious threat to our health and environment.

We recognize the importance of remaining prepared and resilient in the face of climate variability, and have outlined a strategy for combating obstacles towards water utility preparedness, including:

  • Risk assessment in accordance with a 15-year action plan. This means we can detect issues faster, instituting improvements consistent with data from the utility’s 50 to 80-year lifespan.
  • Integrated resource management to ensure efficient use of resources for utility preparation.
  • Replacing older, inefficient water treatment plant pumps.
  • Analyzing the economic, societal, and environmental costs of to improve water utilities.
  • Executing our Innovation Development Process, seeking innovative, cost effective, and sustainable solutions that can benefit all water utilities.

Sustainability and resiliency planning enables the water industry to better serve customers while also helping to address extreme weather events. Water utilities are taking the necessary steps in adjusting to the “new normal” of climate variability so that they can continue to support customers in the face of future emergencies.