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Title: Sea Level Rise Impacts on Wastewater Treatment Systems Along the U.S. Coasts

Abstract

As sea levels rise, coastal communities will experience more frequent and persistent nuisance flooding, and some low-lying areas may be permanently inundated. Critical components of lifeline infrastructure networks in these areas are also at risk of flooding, which could cause significant service disruptions that extend beyond the flooded zone. Thus, identifying critical infrastructure components that are exposed to sea level rise is an important first step in developing targeted investment in protective actions and enhancing the overall resilience of coastal communities. Wastewater treatment plants are typically located at low elevations near the coastline to minimize the cost of collecting consumed water and discharging treated effluent, which makes them particularly susceptible to coastal flooding. For this analysis, we used geographic information systems to assess the exposure of wastewater infrastructure to various sea level rise projections at the national level. We then estimated the number of people who would lose wastewater services, which could be more than five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people at risk of direct flooding due to sea level rise. We also performed a regional comparison of wastewater exposure to marine and groundwater flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area. Overall, this analysismore » highlights the widespread exposure of wastewater infrastructure in the United States and demonstrates that local disruptions to infrastructure networks may have far-ranging impacts on areas that do not experience direct flooding.Plain Language Summary Wastewater treatment plants are susceptible to flooding resulting from sea level rise. Previous estimates of wastewater exposure have only considered the impacts of marine flooding at the local or regional scale. In this analysis, we quantify the exposure to marine flooding across the coastal United States and then consider the relative impacts of marine and groundwater flooding at the regional scale in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also estimate the number of people who may lose access to wastewater services if no actions are taken to prevent flooding at wastewater treatment plants. We find that the number of people impacted by sea level rise due to loss of wastewater services could be five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people who experience direct flooding of their homes or property. We also find that groundwater flooding poses a significant threat to wastewater plants in the San Francisco Bay region.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley CA USA
  2. Risk and Infrastructure Science Center, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont IL USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF); US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
OSTI Identifier:
1461444
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Hummel, Michelle A., Berry, Matthew S., and Stacey, Mark T. Sea Level Rise Impacts on Wastewater Treatment Systems Along the U.S. Coasts. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1002/2017EF000805.
Hummel, Michelle A., Berry, Matthew S., & Stacey, Mark T. Sea Level Rise Impacts on Wastewater Treatment Systems Along the U.S. Coasts. United States. doi:10.1002/2017EF000805.
Hummel, Michelle A., Berry, Matthew S., and Stacey, Mark T. Sun . "Sea Level Rise Impacts on Wastewater Treatment Systems Along the U.S. Coasts". United States. doi:10.1002/2017EF000805.
@article{osti_1461444,
title = {Sea Level Rise Impacts on Wastewater Treatment Systems Along the U.S. Coasts},
author = {Hummel, Michelle A. and Berry, Matthew S. and Stacey, Mark T.},
abstractNote = {As sea levels rise, coastal communities will experience more frequent and persistent nuisance flooding, and some low-lying areas may be permanently inundated. Critical components of lifeline infrastructure networks in these areas are also at risk of flooding, which could cause significant service disruptions that extend beyond the flooded zone. Thus, identifying critical infrastructure components that are exposed to sea level rise is an important first step in developing targeted investment in protective actions and enhancing the overall resilience of coastal communities. Wastewater treatment plants are typically located at low elevations near the coastline to minimize the cost of collecting consumed water and discharging treated effluent, which makes them particularly susceptible to coastal flooding. For this analysis, we used geographic information systems to assess the exposure of wastewater infrastructure to various sea level rise projections at the national level. We then estimated the number of people who would lose wastewater services, which could be more than five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people at risk of direct flooding due to sea level rise. We also performed a regional comparison of wastewater exposure to marine and groundwater flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area. Overall, this analysis highlights the widespread exposure of wastewater infrastructure in the United States and demonstrates that local disruptions to infrastructure networks may have far-ranging impacts on areas that do not experience direct flooding.Plain Language Summary Wastewater treatment plants are susceptible to flooding resulting from sea level rise. Previous estimates of wastewater exposure have only considered the impacts of marine flooding at the local or regional scale. In this analysis, we quantify the exposure to marine flooding across the coastal United States and then consider the relative impacts of marine and groundwater flooding at the regional scale in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also estimate the number of people who may lose access to wastewater services if no actions are taken to prevent flooding at wastewater treatment plants. We find that the number of people impacted by sea level rise due to loss of wastewater services could be five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people who experience direct flooding of their homes or property. We also find that groundwater flooding poses a significant threat to wastewater plants in the San Francisco Bay region.},
doi = {10.1002/2017EF000805},
journal = {Earth's Future},
issn = {2328-4277},
number = 4,
volume = 6,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {4}
}