A dedicated group of local engineers from Honolulu, Hawaii have recently been exploring how possible climate change, particularly sea-level rise, could adversely affect their wastewater infrastructure.
Timothy Steinberger, the former director of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services, comments: “I can’t tell you how many ulcers I get in a matter of hours when there’s a possibility I could lose 30 pump stations in one event.”
His concern arises from the fact that most of Honolulu’s wastewater system is located along coastlines or in areas vulnerable to flooding.
During a one-day seminar on infrastructure in Honolulu last month, dozens of local engineers discussed how they could design projects to weather the impacts of flooding and other predicted climate change issues.
Civil Beat reports:
“Whether the concern is temperature change or sea level rise, engineers have three ways they can incorporate sustainability into a project, Wallace said.
They can: 1) design it to be more robust to account for unusual or extreme circumstances; 2) identify an adaptation strategy so that when conditions change beyond a certain point, “we’ll adapt to another level;” and 3) design so that if the project is, for example, damaged by a storm, operations can recover quickly.
As an example, he described efforts by city of Olympia, Washington, to design a suite of engineering solutions to be incrementally implemented as sea levels rise. They include tide gates, various kinds of barriers, outfalls, and pump stations, among other things.
Like Honolulu, much of Olympia’s critical infrastructure sits in low-lying areas. And with the city located at the base of Puget Sound, those areas are particularly vulnerable to flooding.”
It is great to see Hawaiian engineers looking to improve their cities’ resiliency to climate change issues particular to their geographic area, and even better that they are weighing up examples from other Pacific region cities, like Olympia, Washington.
Inframanage.com notes that dealing with future changes in operating conditions falls into three components of infrastructure asset management:
- Future Demand analysis allows for the prediction of future changes – including elements of climate change, and sustainability practice
- Risk Management – the resilience of networks, and managing risks to achieve that resilience is part of network risk management practice
- Lifecycle Management – if you are adopting multi-step responses as outlines in the article, this will impact on your asset lifecycle management practices and costs. This should be noted in your lifecycle management planning, along with the multi-step adoption trigger levels, and any other associated assumptions
Finally, there are always good examples of developing practice to be found if you look – sometimes in other states, other times in different countries. Inframanage.com will continue to highlight these as they come to our attention.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alexander Shchukin via Flickr Creative Commons License. The photo has been cropped to suit website requirements.