Water and Society - On the Edge Session I: Addressing the Risk Tolerance and Tipping Points of Communities Faced with Extreme Lack/Surplus of Precipitation
Increased climate warming has brought more frequent and severe weather events which include more intense precipitation and extreme heat. These events put human lives and ecosystems at risk, cost billions of dollars, and create havoc for planning, particularly in communities that do not fully understand the potential impact and ramifications of weather and climate. As a result, communities, working with their water utilities, are facing decisions previously unimagined from trucking in potable water during severe droughts to assure survival of their residents to spending large sums of money to move water supply and treatment infrastructure in response to flooding. Using the water sector as a framing, this session concentrates on understanding and avoiding the increased potential risk communities face from a changing climate. This session will explore how communities assess their risks and risk tolerance to establish planning thresholds, and the kind of information, tools and outreach they need to manage a future of changing precipitation patterns. Talks should address how communities assess their water supply risks and thresholds in terms of too much/too little water, what needs to be taken into consideration in determining these tipping points, and what decision support tools, methods, and approaches communities are using to prepare for and adapt to potential extreme events. A final panel will discuss lessons learned from these studies, including where each community needs to make individualized decisions and where a common framework can serve everyone in their thinking.