CAPITAL REGION WATER & EPA COMPLETE CLIMATE RESILIENCY PLANNING EXERCISE
HARRISBURG (September 10, 2015): September marks the four year anniversary of heavy rainfall and flooding across the region from remnants of Tropical Storm Irene and Lee. To plan for similar events and to reduce associated vulnerabilities, Capital Region Water was one of 20 utilities nationwide selected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive technical assistance using its Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT).
Flooding, significant rain events, and even drought are potential threats to Capital Region Water’s ability to provide safe, reliable drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater service. Capital Region Water’s service area has been through several flooding events in recent history and EPA’s climate forecasting predicts that flooding events will become more frequent in the region. In March, Capital Region Water’s Board of Directors passed a resolution to act proactively and begin planning for organizational climate resiliency.
“Now is the time to consider a host of issues including climate change, resiliency and long-term sustainability,” said Capital Region Water CEO Shannon Williams. “Having an idea of our current vulnerabilities will help to determine where we need to adapt as we prepare for the future.”
Planning for Climate Resiliency
CREAT is a software tool to assist drinking water and wastewater utility owners and operators in understanding potential climate change threats and in assessing the related risks at their individual utilities. From November 2014 to June 2015, Capital Region Water staff engaged in a series of webinars and an in-person meeting to conduct a climate risk assessment using CREAT.
Staff performed risk assessments for a number of threats including the risk of prolonged drought on water supply, high flow events at DeHart Reservoir, and the impacts of Susquehanna River flooding on Capital Region Water’s alternate raw water intake structure, wastewater pump stations, and the wastewater treatment plant.
Based on the results of their CREAT risk analysis of drought and flooding threats on their water and wastewater and assets, Capital Region Water is considering a number of potential adaptive measures that will increase their resilience to these threats such as hydrologic barriers, flood water diversion, equipment retrofits, flood risk management plan, climate training for personnel, elevating electrical equipment, replacing pumps with submersibles and backflow prevention at pump stations. To facilitate continued water and wastewater treatment during extreme events, CRW has also identified additional improvements to backup power for these critical assets.
To learn more and to watch a video about this project visit CapitalRegionWater.com/Resiliency and http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/climate/.