Utility-based Water Risk Indices

Climate information comes with a variety of uncertainties, some of which are not quantifiable. This project explores opportunities for robust, no regret, decision making for drought standard operating procedures and planning in a practical framework relevant to utilities in the northeastern region of the United States.

Climate variability has the potential to impact regional water resources.

Resource changes can adversely impact natural ecosystems, societies, and economies of the region–even more so in a highly urbanized region such as the U.S. Northeast (NE). The NE has a large concentration of highly populated cities with significant demands for water supplies that are currently managed by various water utilities and companies. Consequently, the risks faced by these utilities vary by location and the sectors served. They are vulnerable not only to societal changes such as increasing population, urbanization, and technology, but also to climate variability.

Focus areas:

  • Frequency and duration of droughts – how do droughts impact utilities and what is the probability of occurrence?
  • Spatial scale compatibility in forecasts – low resolution climate information makes it difficult to derive information for local systems. We strive to bridge that gap by developing water stress indices for particular utilities while considering specific water sources and demand profiles.
  • Drought Indices – Identify and evaluate existing drought indices, and develop new utility drought indices for potential application to water supply management in the urban Northeastern United States.

This project is being done in collaboration with University of Massachusetts Amherst.