Diagnosing the Vulnerability of Drinking Water Infrastructure

sponsored by Engility Corporation and USAID

With approximately 40% of the global population living along coastlines, coastal areas represent one of the geographic regions most vulnerable to climate change due to their rapid urbanization, exposure to increasing sea level rise and exposure to increased frequency and/or intensity of tropical cyclones, storm surges, saltwater intrusion, precipitation, and flooding. One resulting impact of these climate change related hazards is loss of drinking water access, either due to degradation of water quality or interruption of service. Current vulnerability assessments for drinking water systems to climate change hazards focus on single hazards; however, coastal areas represent a unique geographic location where several climate-related hazards often collide. The resulting effect of these combined hazards is not the simple addition of the exposure to the individual hazards, but is often more severe.

With support from Engility and USAID, this project will develop a model to assess the vulnerability of drinking water systems in coastal cities to multiple synergistic climate change hazards. This work builds on previous research by the project team, where a high-resolution GIS method was developed to assess population-based vulnerability on a global scale to single hazards for various types of drinking water technologies. The model will be validated using field data collected in three Southeast Asian countries and application of this model will allow communities to determine how the implementation of different adaptation measures can reduce their vulnerability.

Water Institute Researchers

Jamie Bartram – Principal Investigator
Edema Ojomo – Lead Researcher
Jeanne Luh – Research Advisor
Aizhan Toregozhina – Research Assistant

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