From the current issue of National Geographic - When the Snows Fail: The American West faces persistent drought, whether or not relief comes this winter. When will the hard choices be made? by Michelle Nijhuis:
"California's water system - with annual expenditures exceeding $30 billion - is a long way from following Australia's "shinning example," says Michael Hanemann. "California and most of the West haven't done a damn thing to put ourselves in a good position to handle drought," he says. "We have been unwilling to make the sort of changes ahead of time that we absolutely need [to make] to face a drier future.""
The same day that my National Geographic arrived I received the WE&T journal with the Responding to Chaos: Disaster planning and resilience cover story. Flood, hurricane, and extreme wet-weather risks are clearly major concerns for water and wastewater operations. Too much rain and wind risks will require utility operators to re-examine their scenario planning in terms of preparedness, response, recovery, needed capital investment, long-term planning, and information management. Extreme wet-weather this century will be a huge disruptive force for many communities in the context of asset management.
Just as likely on the other end of the extreme weather spectrum will be periods of extreme drought. Effective asset management and scenario planning will have to take into account disaster planning and resilience in terms of extreme drought. High growth states like Texas and California cannot escape this fact - - as the climate changes, scientists predict that the southwestern U.S. will get less precipitation, and the northwestern U.S. will get more.
Engineers and managers will have to adjust to a tale of two extremes when thinking about resiliency.