top of page

Water Pipes, Infrastructure Could Buckle Under Climate Change

About 1.8 billion people on earth do not have access to clean and safe water. Owing to extreme hydrologic events accelerated by global warming, this staggering number is expected to increase to 2.8 billion over the course of next decade.

Indeed, the International Panel on Climate Change anticipates that by 2100, average global temperatures could rise as high as 4.5 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels, accelerating the rate of water evaporation and thereby causing more precipitation all over the globe. In Bangladesh, for instance, climate models predict that areas subject to flooding might increase by 25 percent if global temperature rise another 2 C degrees.

In the United States, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the existing water infrastructure of wastewater treatment plants, stormwater collection systems and combined sewer systems were designed on the basis of past hydrologic records without consideration for changes in rainfall intensity and variability from climate change. That means water and wastewater utility systems were not built for the stresses of extreme rainfall — nor heat. They are at significant risk of failure.

Steve Dorman

bottom of page