U.S. EPA Prepares Water Sector for Extreme Weather with Online Resources

January 5, 2016

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with partners to offer a variety of programs to prepare utilities for extreme weather including this workshop on managing small or rural utilities. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Rural Water Association (Duncan, Okla.).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with partners to offer a variety of programs to prepare utilities for extreme weather including this workshop on managing small or rural utilities. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Rural Water Association (Duncan, Okla.).

As extreme weather events become more common, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to provide the water sector with resources to prepare. The tools are designed to improve the security and resilience of the drinking water supply and wastewater treatment services in the U.S.

EPA’s Drinking Water and Wastewater Resilience website provides a portal to information on assessing risks, responding to emergencies, recovering from disasters, training, surveillance, and reporting disasters.

EPA also launched the Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) initiative to help drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities plan for climate change by providing managers with tools, training, and technical assistance.

Those attending the EPA workshop were able to learn about sustainable management practices for small and rural utilities. Photo courtesy of EPA and National Rural Water Association.

Those attending the EPA workshop were able to learn about sustainable management practices for small and rural utilities. Photo courtesy of EPA and National Rural Water Association.

Through CRWU, EPA released the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) that enables utilities to evaluate potential climate change threats. CREAT also enables evaluating options to adapt using both traditional risk assessment and scenario-based methods. The software tool enables operators and owners to use regional and utility-specific information to evaluate the possibility and timeline for any climate-related threats. It provides a series of risk reduction and cost reports to help evaluate options for long-term planning.

The CRWU website features a series of videos highlighting five communities that used CREAT to help determine potential climate change effects their utilities may face and implement adaptations. The videos feature the communities of

EPA also released the Water Quality Surveillance and Response System to help drinking water utilities monitor the quality of water in their distribution systems. The Water Utility Response On-The-Go mobile website makes available to operators in the field emergency contacts and the ability to track extreme weather. In addition, EPA provides both water and wastewater utilities action checklists for responding to natural disasters.

Read how water resource recovery facilities responded to extreme snow events in the December 2015 WE&T article, “Snow-my-goodness! When frigid temperatures and record snowfalls strike, WRRFs in places hit the hardest show how it’s done.”

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

 

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