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Expert assessment of the resilience of drinking water and sanitation systems to climate-related hazards

Luh, Jeanne, Royster, Sarah, Sebastian, Daniel, Ojomo, Edema, Bartram, Jamie
The Science of the total environment 2016
drinking water, drought, expert opinion, planning, sanitation, surface water, wells, wind damage
We conducted an expert assessment to obtain expert opinions on the relative global resilience of ten drinking water and five sanitation technologies to the following six climate-related hazards: drought, decreased inter-annual precipitation, flood, superstorm flood, wind damage, and saline intrusion. Resilience scores ranged from 1.7 to 9.9 out of a maximum resilience of 10, with high scores corresponding to high resilience. We find that for some climate-related hazards, such as drought, technologies demonstrated a large range in resilience, indicating that the choice of water and sanitation technologies is important for areas prone to drought. On the other hand, the range of resilience scores for superstorm flooding was much smaller, particularly for sanitation technologies, suggesting that the choice of technology is less of a determinant of functionality for superstorm flooding as compared to other climate-related hazards. For drinking water technologies, only treated piped utility-managed systems that use surface water had resilience scores >6.0 for all hazards, while protected dug wells were found to be one of the least resilient technologies, consistently scoring <5.0 for all hazards except wind damage. In general, sanitation technologies were found to have low to medium resilience, suggesting that sanitation systems need to be adapted to ensure functionality during and after climate-related hazards. The results of the study can be used to help communities decide which technologies are best suited for the climate-related challenges they face and help in future adaptation planning.