White Paper

Sustainability And Resiliency Planning For Water Utilities

By Maureen Duffy, American Water

During a significant weather event, a water utility’s level of preparedness can mean the difference between temporary inconveniences and serious health and environmental consequences. Since many Americans rely on water utilities to provide drinking water and sanitation, water utility preparedness can greatly impact how quickly communities can recover from an emergency.

A utility’s ability to draw, treat and provide water to customers is directly affected by the variation and intensity of rainfall and can be impacted by both flood and drought. Changes to historical patterns of water availability and quality affect how much water the company can expect to access, whether they can meet expected demand, where treatment plants are located, and the water treatment technologies that are used.

Water and wastewater systems are built for resiliency and sustainability of operations during weather events or other circumstances that could potentially interrupt service. Water utility customers generally do not lose service during storm events because systems are designed to provide continuous service under a wide range of events. Distribution system water storage tanks are built to act as buffers, as are standby energy sources that ensure critical facilities keep running should the utility lose power.

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