Consultancy agency Black & Veatch have compiled a new analysis showing that water utilities in the U.S. have various priorities, mostly consisting of how to deal with aging infrastructure to how to finance necessary projects.
Notably, less than 10% of utilities surveyed placed climate change resiliency plans on their priority list.
Over 60% admitted that water supply and scarcity were major issues, with only a quarter of water utilities factoring both climate change and the need for resilient infrastructure into their strategic plans.
Water Online reports:
“Many utilities do not consider climate change in their risk assessments, according to Greentech Media:
About half of the surveyed water utilities said they had assessed the vulnerability of most of their assets, but only 15 percent included climate change factors in that analysis. For most utilities, addressing climate change means investing in water conservation and energy management and assessing protection for vulnerable facilities.
Ralph Eberts, managing director for integrated solutions at Black & Veatch, commented in the report: “There are still a number of agencies that have not assessed the vulnerability and resilience of all key assets, which represents a major blind spot related to risk.”
The water industry is aware of the challenges climate change brings, but that does not mean utilities have the resources to act.”
Whatever the case, utilities definitely need to take both climate change and the need for resilient infrastructure into their strategic planning in order to best prepare for the future.
Inframanage.com notes that within an asset management plan you may choose to include a separate section on sustainability – if you do have this section then it is a good place to outline climate change risks, sustainability and climate change policies and any remedial actions.
The Future Demand Section of your asset management plan is also a good place to examine future climate change issues, particularly as they relate to water source availability and long-term reliability. Long-term planning and multi-agency coordination may be required to address these issues.
The Risk Management Section of your asset management plan is the place to complete analysis of the risk effects of climate change on the assets you manage, any mitigation that will be required, and the projected impacts on resilience.
Climate change impacts different regions, states and countries in different ways. It is important to examine these issues thoroughly in your infrastructure asset management planning, and to determine what further planning and actions may be required.
For a revenue viewpoint, there may be a state, federal, or international agency funds or grants available to assist water utilities with the management of climate change issues, and these funding sources should not be overlooked when dealing with this subject in your long term planning.