Impacts of Extreme Weather Events: Demonstration of the WaterQIEWE Tool for Utility Preparedness

Last Modified: May 14, 2013


  • Benjamin D. Stanford, Jan C. Routt, Jean Debroux, Stuart Khan, Benjamin Wright

The Water Research Foundation commissioned our Project Team to study the relationships between extreme weather-related events and potential impacts on water quality, including impacts on infrastructure, personnel, treatability, treatment processes, etc. (WaterRF Project #4324). By leveraging the participation of over 50 utility partners from across the US and Australia, this project has addressed the impacts of extreme weather-related events on water quality from the tropics to the arctic, from rainforests to deserts. We have been collecting case studies from across the US and Australia as part of this project and have developed a Water Quality Impacts of Extreme Weather Events Tool (called “WaterQIEWE”) that is Excel-based and allows utilities to search for case studies and graphically present data linking geography, weather events, water quality impacts, and more. This presentation will provide an overview of the project, but will focus on a live demonstration of the WaterQIEWE tool that will be available from the Water Research Foundation.

Extreme weather-related events are of primary concern to drinking water utilities in that they may potentially affect both the supply and quality of drinking water, service reliability, regulatory compliance, consumer perception, and costs. Extreme weather-related events include altered precipitation patterns (e.g., floods, heavy snowfall, droughts), major storm-related events affecting power and infrastructure integrity (e.g., wind, lightning, heating/freezing, atypical water runoff/erosion) and changes to source water flow volumes, temperatures and contaminant loading into surface and groundwater supplies. Water utility infrastructure and operations procedures are generally designed to enable utilities to reduce the risks from typical, region-specific extreme weather events to an acceptable level, but a thorough understanding of the potential risks is necessary for proper planning. Thus, this project addresses a significant need in the community by providing tools and insights into the relationship between weather extremes and potential impacts that utilities may encounter in the future.

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