Update on EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Tools and Efforts

EPA’s Water Security Division is continuing to work on implementing many of the recommendations in the NDWAC Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) Report (published December 2010). Following are highlights related to their CRWU tool development efforts and other activities.

Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT): CREAT is available for download on EPA’s website. EPA developed three CREAT training modules and delivered webinar based trainings to over 150 participants from October through December 2011. EPA plans to make these training modules available on its web site in the near future. Efforts are also underway to update the CREAT software with more robust scenario-based planning, information on energy management, extreme events data, and an analysis comparison function.

Adaptation Strategies Guide: This guide is an interactive PDF document to help drinking water and wastewater utilities gain a better understanding of potential climate-related impacts in their region and the adaptation strategies they can use to prepare their system for those impacts. The guide is in the final stages of completion and should be posted to EPA’s web site within a month.

CRWU Toolbox: This searchable web-based toolbox is available on EPA’s web site. It contains over 500 climate-related resources for water utilities and has recently been updated to a more user-friendly format for quickly and easily access relevant resources.

Extreme Events Workshop Tool: This tool is currently under development. Its purpose is to assist users in planning, customizing, and conducting water sector-specific extreme events workshops on five different scenarios (Extreme Flooding, Extreme Drought, Sea Level Rise, Intense Wildfire, and Reduced Snowpack). Each scenario walks users through a long-term planning exercise where they gain a better understanding of how projected changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events can impact their utility, and how they can begin to develop adaptation plans to prepare for these changes.

Coordination with Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE) Program: The CRWU initiative staff is working with the CRE program staff to conduct exercises using the CREAT tool. They have completed a pilot exercise with EPA Region 2, the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, and the New York/New Jersey Harbor National Estuary Program and are finalizing a report to document the methodology and lessons learned. Currently, they are conducting additional CRWU/CRE exercises with the Albermarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program in North Carolina and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program in California.

Coordination with Partners and Stakeholders: Efforts continue to work with other Federal agencies (e.g., NOAA, Bureau of Reclamation, DOI, other EPA offices) and water associations (including ASDWA) on the CRWU initiative to keep everyone informed about the CRWU activities and to receive feedback. EPA is also exploring how to better use social media to promote its work.

Adaptive Response Framework: This past summer, a subset of the NDWAC CRWU working group, along with partners from water sector associations, met in Washington, DC to consider different options for building out the Adaptive Response Framework into a resource or application for water sector utilities. Based on the feedback from this group, EPA plans to update the CRWU web site to walk users through the framework by: explaining the different areas of engagement; drawing out actions utilities can take to become more climate ready; and highlighting resources where utilities can find additional information.

For more information on CRWU efforts please visit EPA’s web site at: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/climate/ or contact Curt Baranowski of EPA at baranowski.curt@epa.gov or 202-564-0636.