Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria—the 2017 hurricane season was devastating. Unfortunately, we probably haven’t seen the worst, according to a study recently released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study found that devastating storms typically occurring every 25 years could come as frequently as every five years between 2030 and 2045. Moreover, storms of this tremendous magnitude were only seen every 500 years around 1800, the start of the industrial revolution.
As we expect to see storms coming faster and more furiously, as well as potentially causing greater devastation, it’s imperative to put measures and plans in place to react and recover as quickly as possible.
Last month marked the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc on parts of New York, New Jersey and other areas of the mid-Atlantic Coast. In responding to that storm and others such as Hurricane Irene, those of us in the water industry have learned many lessons and consequently put in place solutions to make sure we, our customers and our communities are better prepared for the next time.
These storms have taught us lessons in being prepared. This recent study provides us a strong indicator to act upon right now. One of the most important actions is forming strategies and investing now in systems that reinforce and protect water infrastructure in coastal areas.
I recognize that thinking ahead to 2030 may at first seem to be a non-urgent need. But the rate at which sea levels are rising is getting increasingly faster year after year. I believe it’s better to be proactive now. American Water is on board when it comes to recognizing the effects of climate change and taking steps to address the resilience of our infrastructure for those storms yet to come!