Impact of Climate Change on Wastewater Treatment Facilities

 

 

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Global warming… Climate change… Regardless of the cause, what is evident is that we are experiencing a higher frequency of more intense, powerful storms and storm surge resulting in localized flooding.  We need to assess and adapt.

 

As a utility manager, how will you prepare for the future? What legacy will you leave your community with regard to planning for the future to address the impact of climate change on your facilities?

Traditional Comprehensive Plans
Wastewater facility plans, comprehensive plans and the like, have traditionally been our tools to take a comprehensive look at our wastewater facilities, consider replacement of antiquated equipment with modern more efficient equipment, rehabilitate structures and buildings, and consider more energy efficient processes. Sewered growth projections are made and the impact of growth on the ability of the facility to consistently meet discharge permit requirements is evaluated. Potential future regulatory requirements are assessed, and likely order of magnitude costs developed to address these possible distant effluent discharge limits. One ingredient missing in many of facility plans is an assessment of “the impact of climate change.”

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Is your water quality at risk from climate change?

Golden AlgaeHere in New England, climate change is already impacting the quality of drinking water supply reservoirs and impoundments. More erratic precipitation patterns, increasingly heavy precipitation events and changing stream flow patterns are here. How are these weather changes impacting water quality? How can we monitor our water supplies to plan ahead for changes that may be needed to our treatment facilities?

Tracking Changes and Trends
Identifying key water quality indicators and tracking changes and trends over time is the best predictive tool to understand if your source of supply is at risk from climate change. For example, tracking mercury concentrations in your reservoir water column is one such indicator.

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Sustainable Water Supply Management

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Today's complex water supply issues demand an integrated watershed-based approach Competing Water Needs Reflecting on this long snowy winter, it’s hard to understand why New England needs to implement sustainable water management initiatives to protect our precious water resources. In … Continue reading