river in Alaska
river in Alaska


Confronting Climate Change Threats to our Nation’s Water Utilities

Water utilities are responsible for providing the public with safe and reliable access to water. They are also acutely aware of the threat climate change poses to their systems and operations. Every day, these drinking water, wastewater, and storm water operations across the country confront climate-related challenges such as sea level rise, droughts, flooding, or wildfires, that put our nation’s water supply at risk.

To support responses to these challenges, the Environmental Protection Agency established the Creating Resilient Water Utilities initiative. The program provides tools and resources to water utilities to strengthen their resilience to climate change impacts. GDIT supports technical assistance exercises under CRWU by providing training on online tools, allowing collaboration with utilities to assess their current situation and assets and then to identify potential adaptive measures.

While most utilities face some form of climate change impact, challenges exist in identifying and prioritizing threats in order to develop adaptation plans. Once a utility has been selected to participate in a CRWU technical assistance exercise, GDIT’s experts across climate, water utility, engineering, emergency response, and finance experts get to work. They support the EPA to evaluate the impacts of climate change to that utility, understand the resource constraints, and assess appropriate adaptive measures.

One of the web tools developed by GDIT to support CRWU technical assistance exercises is the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Adaptation Tool. CREAT contains rich and actionable data that helps utilities understand their climate risks, identify adaptation projects, and apply for project funding. Utilities use CREAT to model their specific issues and to examine the effects of any proposed resilience strategies.

GDIT works with utilities of different sizes across many locations and environments, from Alaska to the East Coast, and from large, complex utilities that support major cities to small towns and tribal communities.

  • In Oklahoma, working with the Kenwood Water District with the Cherokee Nation east of Tulsa, a plan was developed to confront source water quality issues that threatened to disrupt drinking water services for more than 700 people.
  • In Maryland, our team helped to develop a plan to combat flood and drought risks to the drinking and wastewater systems that support more than 10,000 people in Middletown and Boonsboro.
  • And in Portland, Oregon, we worked with the Portland Water Bureau to examine impacts of flooding on a wastewater pump station which impacts a large proportion of their population, including businesses in the downtown area.

As the threat of climate change continues to grow and evolve, our team will continue to serve as a partner in the wider EPA effort to drive readiness and resiliency for America’s water utilities.

Learn more about how GDIT helps supports other environmental missions, visit our Environment page.