2019 Program Archive: Sustainable and Resilience Planning for Water in the Face of Climate Change

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Sustainable and Resilience Planning for Water in the Face of Climate Change

Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 5

We will share how communities are confronting climate risk by finding ways to better engage, understand, plan, act, and sustain their climate adaptation efforts in the water sector.

Cross-Cutting Themes: 
Climate Adaptation Best Practices for Water Utilities
Julie Vano, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Laurna Kaatz, Denver Water
  • Tirusew Asefa, Tampa Bay
  • David Behar, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Seevani Bista, San Diego County Water Authority
  • Keely Brooks, Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Alan Cohn, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • Kavita Heyn, Portland Water Bureau
  • Mohammed Mahmoud, Central Arizona Project
  • Sebastian Malter, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Jennifer McCarthy, Metropolian Water District of Southern California
  • Daryl Slusher, Austin Water
  • Abby Sullivan, Philadelphia Water Department
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For the last 10 years, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) has been at the forefront of uncovering effective ways to build adaptation capacity and incorporate new climate science into water management and planning. WUCA’s experiences come from the cutting-edge activities and products developed by the alliance’s 12 utility members from across the United States, which represent a range of decision-making processes, risk profiles, utility sizes, and geographical contexts, as well as their collaborative action as an alliance. These collective experiences offer a unique opportunity to provide a path forward for developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies and actions more effectively. We describe a recent effort to develop Climate Adaptation Best Practices by leveraging WUCA’s experiences to build a shared knowledge base that makes approaches for successful climate change adaptation for water utilities and others interested in climate adaptation easier to discover, understand, and navigate.

Climate Conversations with Water Sector Engineers: Building Trusted, Credible Sources of Climate Change Information
Kavita Heyn, Portland Water Bureau
  • Heidi Roop, Univeristy of Washington Climate Impacts Group
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This presentation will highlight efforts by the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group (CIG) to understand how water sector engineers perceive and apply climate change information in project planning, design and risk management. The audience will hear how WUCA and CIG gathered input from water utility engineers across the U.S. through a series of climate conversations that solicited meaningful information and helped build trusted discourse. These conversations revealed common challenges engineers face in accessing and using climate change information in their work. How such information is communicated, translated and disseminated is a critical factor in creating credible sources for these water sector professionals.

Participants will learn how involved engineers asked to receive climate change resources, and critically, from whom. Suggested strategies are not necessarily ground-breaking but are simple enough to be overlooked by climate scientists, utility staff, and adaptation experts. Lack of effective communications from trusted sources can limit the use or understanding of climate change information and ostensibly poses a major challenge to adaptation in the sector. Engineers seek practical case studies from their peers and want to visualize how climate data are translated into metrics that can be integrated into design standards or long-range planning. As this process revealed, most want to be part of the conversation of bringing climate change into water utility functions. Learnings from these climate conversations may apply to participants from the water and engineering fields and will help foster dialogue around this challenge with adaptation leaders.

Water Forward: Austin's 100 Year Integrated Water Resource Plan
Marisa Raquel Flores Gonzalez, Austin Water
  • Katherine Hayhoe, ATMOS Research
  • Richard Hoffpauir, Hoffpauir Consulting, PLLC
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Austin Water, working with other city departments, a citizen task force, and the community, has developed a 100 year water plan to increase Austin’s resilience and reliability in the face of future climate change uncertainties. The Water Forward plan recommends a number of strategies to address these challenges, including conservation, onsite reuse, and large storage projects. The plan also recommends an adaptive management approach to implementation of strategies that will be informed by new data and changing conditions over time.
As part of the Water Forward planning process, multiple future hydrologic scenarios were developed and used to evaluate the performance of potential strategies. Scenarios included the historical hydrology, historical hydrology adjusted to reflect the potential effects of climate change, and two 10,000 year simulations developed by resequencing years from the two previously mentioned scenarios.
Developing the climate adjusted streamflow data used temperature and precipitation data from 20 Global Climate Models to drive regression models to replicate historical streamflow in the Texas Colorado River basin. Future projected temperature and precipitation was then used to develop 20 projections of streamflow at each of the 43 gages in the basin. An ensemble created from the projections was used in river modeling to test combinations of strategies. In addition, two 10,000 year hydrologic scenarios were developed by resequencing years from observed or climate-adjusted hydrology. A range of droughts were selected from these sequences to represent droughts worse than the worst drought in the historical period. These droughts were used to further test strategy performance.

Adaptation Planning for Sea Level Rise and Extreme Storms: Lessons from the Philadelphia Water Department
Abby Lauren Sullivan, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Avery Livengood, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Julia Rockwell, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Mark Maimone, CDM Smith
  • Paula Kulis, CDM Smith
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Climate change is altering the water cycle, posing a significant challenge to resource managers and water utilities around the world. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) provides critical services to over 2 million customers and ensures its drinking water, waste water and stormwater systems are being designed, managed, and maintained with climate impacts in mind. PWD started the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) in 2014 to plan for climate change and develop cost-effective adaptation strategies to ensure its services remain equitable, safe and affordable for all rate payers.

Philadelphia is situated between two tidal rivers, which are also its source waters, therefore planning for sea level rise is a priority of the CCAP. As sea levels in the estuary continue rising, the region will experience higher daily tides and storm tides, resulting in more frequent and extensive coastal flooding. For PWD this could mean inundated facilities and critical assets, overwhelmed drainage systems, and impacts to source water quality. The CCAP conducted an Inundation Analysis from a risk-based management perspective to estimate future coastal flood hazards. This talk will cover the challenges and lessons learned from this work, including best practices for determining trends in observed tide gauge data; interpreting and working with sea level rise projections; determining baseline year water elevations; understanding and estimating storm surge; and tips for making risk assessment results actionable within existing programs and design standards. Strategies and tools for communicating about risk, uncertainty, and sensitivities associated with publishing flood maps will also be discussed.

Community Response to Water Scarcity after Maria and Long-term Strategies for Resilience
Paul Edward Sturm, RIdge to Reefs
  • Phal Mantha, RIdge to Reefs
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Since the tragedy of Hurricane Maria, Ridge to Reefs (RTR) has been working on both short-term and long-term water resilience to help support the people and communities in Puerto Rico. RTR initially focused on direct relief supplying drinking water filters, food, chain saws to clear roads, medicine, community scale DIVVY systems to provision drinking water systems to communities. Since that time we have focused on longer term sustainability and preparation for future storms (agricultural resilience and water resilience). We have been placing rainwater harvesting systems, cisterns, and related purification infrastructure at schools, community kitchens, local farms, and in barrios where people were sharing water with their neighbors. We will discuss lessons learned, approaches that have worked as well as strategies for water resilience at the Community level that are applicable to other islands and those impacted by hurricanes and other disasters.