Working Within a Watershed: Six Water Utilities' Experiences in Planning, Responding, Coping and Adapting to Extreme Weather/Climate Events
At each location, a principal investigator, in coordination with a local water utility representative, planned local workshops that were used for the case studies.. The utility representative arranged speakers that included locally involved citizens from NGOs; representatives of larger employment blocks (e.g., agriculture, fisheries, and landscaping); staff experienced with extreme events from neighboring water and energy utilities; employees of local, regional, and federal governments and centers; and other meaningful users and suppliers of weather/climate and hydrologic al information in their district. One- to two-day meetings provided information on how these utilities planned for and responded to one or more events, the lessons they learned, the weather/climate-related data and tools they used or wished they had, and their views of planning for, adapting to, and coping with future such events.
It became evident by the investigators during the first case study that the water utility could not be studied in isolation but need to be understood within a watershed. As a result, one of the major study findings is that water utilities cannot work within a vacuum and require coordination across water service areas and jurisdictional boundaries. Another finding was the importance of taking a multi-disciplinary approach to planning and communicating. The researchers and locals repeatedly saw how scientists and citizens working together could produce and provide access for more actionable information for science based decision making.