Cutting Edge Research on Climate Change Risks

Water Research Foundation Taps Hazen and Sawyer

(Hollywood, FL – November 17, 2009) – Hazen and Sawyer will be playing a vital role in the Water Research Foundation (the Foundation)’s Climate Change Strategic Research Initiative, focused on evaluating the impacts of climate change on water supplies. The firm is undertaking two major research projects that will be instrumental in helping utilities anticipate, appraise, and manage potential climate risks.

The first project (# 4262: Vulnerability Assessment and Risk Management Tools for Climate Change) centers on developing an analytical framework that utilities can use to assess the impact of climate change and other long-term drivers on their systems, enabling them to make sound decisions during uncertain times. Hazen and Sawyer is part of a world-class team including Stockholm Environment Institute (prime), RAND Corporation, HydroLogics, and Halcrow. The approach first involves conducting a series of utility case studies to gain a thorough understanding of climate risks. The next step entails development of a quantitative risk assessment and management framework. This framework will enable the evaluation of dynamic risk assessment strategies against a wide array of management scenarios reflecting climate change and other uncertainties, affording utilities the knowledge and preparedness to effectively manage potential climate change impacts.

The final step in the project involves undertaking two major pilot studies – for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Colorado Springs Utilities – to apply the team’s analytical framework. These studies provide a unique laboratory for assessing and demonstrating the climate risk identification and mitigation framework.

The second Foundation project (# 4263: Analysis of Changes in Water Use under Regional Climate Change Scenarios) focuses on simulating the impacts of alternative climate change scenarios on the municipal water demands of several North American water providers. A foremost goal of this project is to increase the adaptive capacity of water utilities in planning for and responding to climate change pressures. This work will include:

  • Elaborating on the dynamics of water demand and the supply-demand balance.
  • Translating the climate projections obtained from Global Circulation Models into a scale that reflects regional or local geographical weather conditions, and presenting updated regional-level forecasts of climate change.
  • Developing and demonstrating evaluation tools that can be used by the water industry to assess probable water demand impacts and adaptation options.
  • Quantifying demand-side effects of climate change and portraying demand-side options for coping with climate uncertainty.

Hazen and Sawyer is partnering with Stratus Consulting and Aquacraft, Inc. on this effort, and will also involve a diverse set of study participants, including Tampa Bay Water, San Diego County Water Authority, Colorado Springs Utilities, Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario, Gwinnett County, Georgia, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Bernalillo County Water Authority (Albuquerque), and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.

The Water Research Foundation is a member-supported, international, non-profit organization committed to helping water utilities, public health agencies, and other professional provide safe and affordable drinking water to consumers, by sponsoring critical research.

Since our founding in 1951, Hazen and Sawyer has focused on two things: providing safe drinking water and controlling water pollution. Our range of services encompasses the planning, design, and construction management of water and wastewater-related projects – from clean water treatment, storage, and distribution to wastewater and stormwater collection, treatment, and reuse.

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