by Jennie Saxe
One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from the character Edna Mode in the animated movie The Incredibles: “Luck favors the prepared.” Why do I like this quote? It’s simple: luck isn’t necessarily the answer; preparation is an important factor for success in school, at work, in sports, and more.
Being prepared isn’t just for students and athletes – water systems and communities need to be prepared, too. Flooding rains, power outages, and intentional acts are emergencies that can disrupt our lives – even putting our safety at risk. As our climate changes, these types of emergencies present different, serious challenges to water and wastewater systems.
EPA has many resources for water systems to help them plan, prepare for, and respond to all types of hazards. Water utilities can also respond to climate changes underway – and prepare for changes anticipated in the future – by tapping into EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities program. Recently, Capital Region Water in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania made use of EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT) to identify what impacts climate change has on its operations and develop options for lowering risk. This video is a great look at how water and wastewater treatment plants can incorporate resilience, climate change, and long-term sustainability into capital projects and operations.
Because there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach for water utilities to adapt to climate changes, EPA also developed an Adaptation Strategies Guide for Water Utilities. This guide walks users step-by-step though projected climate conditions in different regions, and provides a menu of actions that a water utility can take to be better prepared to serve its community in all types of emergencies. The guide even highlights some “no regrets” options (for example: monitoring weather conditions; diversifying water sources; and developing mutual aid agreements with other utilities) which will benefit water systems in a variety of current and future climate scenarios.
Preparedness is so important for families and communities that President Obama has declared September National Preparedness Month, a time to develop plans for all types of emergencies. Take some time this month to talk with your family about what they should do in an emergency, and put together an emergency kit that includes water. It’s easy, and it can make weathering an emergency less stressful. Check out these resources today!
About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs.