Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2013\Evaluating Long- and Short-Term Planning Under Climate Change Scenarios to Better Assess the Role of Water Reuse

Evaluating Long- and Short-Term Planning Under Climate Change Scenarios to Better Assess the Role of Water Reuse

Project: 08-15
Year Released: 2013
Type: Decision Making Tool

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, California State Water Resources Control Board
Total Investment: $256,241 (Cash: $200,000, In-Kind: $56,241)

Principal Investigator: Robert S. Raucher, Ph.D., Stratus Consulting Inc.


To meet the challenge to provide fresh water supplies for a growing population at a time of uncertainty in water supplies, municipalities are using recycled water for non-potable needs. Water reuse from municipal and other treatment systems is one of the fastest growing sources of new water in California. Planning ahead for dire changes in climate or other environmental changes due to extreme weather events will allow preparation time required to increase the number of viable alternatives in such situations.

Goals and Objectives

This project helps water resources managers understand, assess, and appropriately include the impacts of climate change in their decisions without getting bogged down. In addition, this primer explicitly points out how a reclaimed water program can be one of the best climate preparation tools because of its climate-independent nature and its ability to maximize the use of current and future water resources.

Research Approach

The report is based on case studies of three utilities representing a broad range of climate change planning needs: the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, the City of Phoenix Water Services Department, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency.

Findings and Conclusions

Part I of this report lays out a framework designed to make it easy for water resource managers to include climate change in both day-to-day and long-term decision-making.

Part II presents an overview of the three case studies using the framework provided in Part I. This is designed both to provide examples and to illustrate the practicality of the planning framework.

Part III provides a more rigorous technical discussion of specific issues and tools presented in Part I. Part III includes a technical presentation of climate science and global climate models, global climate model downscaling, high-probability climate changes, tools for identifying climate change impacts on utilities, tools for identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, sea-level rise, and an overview of common questions and misperceptions.

In sum, this document is presented to the water resource manager as a pragmatic tool to make it straightforward to include potential changes in climate in utility planning, as well as to illustrate the significant role of reclaimed water in preparing for these changes.

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