EPA has released another set of tools to help communities adapt to climate change: this time they’re focusing on water and wastewater utilities.

If you only have a moment, start with the Climate Ready Water Utilities Toolbox. I know—another toolkit. But the EPA has taken an interesting strategy to address the primary challenge of toolkits: they’re either too small to be very useful, or they’re too large to find what you’re looking for.

What the EPA has done (or is working on, since the site still says “beta version” right up top), is created a clever, four-step way to narrow down what you might be looking for, and then get it to you. Check out this illustration:

Climate Ready Water Utilities Toolbox beta version

Each of the numbers you see corresponds to a general question:

  1. Which category of items would you like to search (activities, funding, publications, tools, workshops)?
  2. What sort of utility do you represent and where is it?
  3. What are your concerns about it related to climate change?
  4. What sort of action are you interesting in taking/learning about?

Once you’ve made your selections, you hit “Submit Results” and it gives you a table with links. Useful, and definitely worth a look.

There’s more on the site, too.

CREATClimate Resilience Evaluation  Awareness Tool  CREAT

In their words (since I haven’t had a chance to download and play with it yet):

EPA has developed Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT), a software tool to assist drinking water and wastewater utility owners and operators in understanding potential climate change threats and in assessing the related risks at their individual utilities. CREAT provides users with access to the most recent national assessment of climate change impacts for use in considering how these changes will impact utility operations and missions.

CREAT allows users to evaluate potential impacts of climate change on their utility and to evaluate adaptation options to address these impacts using both traditional risk assessment and scenario-based decision making. CREAT provides libraries of drinking water and wastewater utility assets (e.g., water resources, treatment plants, pump stations) that could be impacted by climate change, possible climate change-related threats (e.g., flooding, drought, water quality), and adaptive measures that can be implemented to reduce the impacts of climate change. The tool guides users through identifying threats based on regional differences in climate change projections and designing adaptation plans based on the types of threats being considered. Following assessment, CREAT provides a series of risk reduction and cost reports that will allow the user to evaluate various adaptation options as part of long-term planning.

Sounds promising (and could be a useful part of figuring out which of your communities utilities are most at risk). You’ll need to download CREAT here to test it out.

Finally, the EPA has updated their “Tabletop Exercise Tool for Water Systems” to include climate change scenarios. Each exercise comes with a situation manual, PowerPoint presentation, and more.

This looks like a very promising set for those working on water utilities.

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