Sustainability and Resiliency of Wastewater and Drinking Water Treatment Plants

Ayla Pavelka


Climate change is projected to affect many different types of infrastructure in the U.S. This project will address the issue of climate change and its effects on wastewater and drinking water facilities in Indiana and the greater Midwestern region. Also, this project will explore potential adaptation strategies to avoid or reduce the severity of these impacts.

These obstacles must be addressed with urgency; as our global society continues to push our planet beyond the limits of sustainability, we have also surpassed conditions previously experienced by humankind. Lacking information on rapidly changing future conditions from historical perspectives, my research will be based on impacts experienced in recent extreme weather events and current projections of future climate change impacts deriving from global climate models.

The study will investigate how wastewater and drinking water infrastructures have been impacted by, responded to, and recovered from extreme events, and will identify key impact pathways associated with projected future conditions in the coming decades. Data and information will be collected via a literature review, compilation of statistics specific to wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities in Indiana, direct communication with professional practitioners in selected facilities, and analysis of climate change predictions for Indiana and the Midwest from existing studies, especially the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (INCCIA).

The goal of this project is to create a technically detailed, yet accessible, article informing professionals and lay readers of the effects of climate change on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in Indiana and the Midwest, and highlighting potential strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation. This article will contribute to the INCCIA report on infrastructure.