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Confronting Climate Change: An Early Analysis of Water and Wastewater Adaptation Costs Through 2050

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Climate change is here now and will likely alter the water cycle; affecting where, when, and how much water is available. Utilities responsible for providing water and wastewater services will clearly be affected by these impacts for their 20- to 40-year infrastructure planning horizons. Climate change impacts include, but are not limited to: (a) increased severe precipitation events (e.g., flood, drought), (b) increased water scarcity; (c) changes in snow melt patterns, and (c) sea level rise. Green and gray infrastructure adaptations to address impacts on water and wastewater management already are available, and will be refined over time. Through 2050, we estimate that the infrastructure and operations and maintenance costs for U.S.-based drinking water and wastewater services to adapt to climate change (above expected replacement costs) will range from 448 billion to 944 billion.

Keywords: Climate change; climate adaptation cost impacts; climate adaptation strategies; emergency response and recovery; extreme hydrological events; utilities; wastewater treatment; water cycle; water treatment; wet weather

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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