It’s good to have a plan and be prepared before a major storm hits and it’s too late. Adam Hosking will present on New York City’s resilience planning strategy in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy at Singapore International Water Week, June 1-5.

By: Adam Hosking, CH2M HILL Deputy Service Leader for Water Resources and Ecosystem Management

Adam Hosking will present his paper, “Future Proofing Cities: Resilience Planning for New York’s Water Infrastructure After Superstorm Sandy”, co-authored by: Alan Cohn of New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Timothy Groninger of Hazan & Sawyer, and Vin Rubino of CH2M HILL, on Tuesday, June 3, at 4pm during the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). He will also present this paper on Sunday, June 1 as part of the SIWW Hot Issues Workshop on “Water Supply for Extreme Events”. Get a complete schedule of CH2M HILL’s participation in SIWW.

This week, the global water industry is gathering for the 6th SIWW in Singapore. The theme of this year’s event is ‘The Global Platform to Share and Co-create Innovative Water Solutions’. I am looking forward to participating in several events to share information on the importance of resilience in the aftermath of extreme weather events. With climate change, events like these are becoming more fierce and frequent, which is why it is critical for our industry to understand how to handle these extreme events and what we can do to prepare response and resiliency plans to protect infrastructure and communities.

Two recent events in the U.S. demonstrate the catastrophic impact hurricanes and flooding can have on communities and their infrastructure. When weather reports indicated a severe storm was building at sea that promised to bring hurricane force winds, heavy rain and unprecedented storm surge to New York City and the New Jersey coastline in 2012, communities began taking precautions to prepare in an effort to protect property and save lives. Early forecasts predicted the storm, now known as Superstorm Sandy, to remain at sea. However after taking a sharp turn, the storm slammed ashore, bringing a huge storm surge to the Jersey shoreline—severely damaging or destroying public infrastructure throughout the metropolitan New York area.

In the aftermath of the event, New York City and New Jersey have worked hard to move forward with recovery and rebuilding efforts. In 2013, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the multi award-winning NYC Wastewater Resiliency Plan, the nation’s most detailed and comprehensive assessment of the risk climate change poses to a wastewater collection and treatment system.

The groundbreaking study (and backbone of the Plan) was initiated in 2011. CH2M HILL, as part of a joint venture with Hazen & Sawyer, identified and quantified the impacts of climate change and population growth on New York City’s sewer, drainage, and wastewater systems. Following the impacts of Sandy, the study was expanded to include vulnerability analyses and adaptation recommendations for all at-risk city wastewater facilities and pumping stations. Based on an asset-by-asset analysis of the risks from storm surge under future sea level rise scenarios, the study used high resolution maps and a detailed analysis of the elevation of individual components of the wastewater system to assess the risk of each component.

The resiliency study was the first of its kind to assess coastal flooding risks under future sea level conditions. It will be beneficial for New York City to request federal funding for its Resiliency Plan, but it will also serve as a national model for other cities who can utilize the information to prepare for future storms.

In 2005, states along the Gulf Coast including Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi found themselves in a similar situation following Hurricane Katrina when the storm struck the coastline. The storm, which brought winds 100-140 miles per hour, did extensive damage across the region and levee breaches led to massive flooding, all of which resulted in approximately $100 billion in damage. In the aftermath of the post-Katrina levee breaks, flooding, and power outages, the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address repairs to the impacted facilities through the FEMA Public Assistance Program. FEMA is now providing additional resources through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) that will allow the S&WB to mitigate future damage to its power facilities.

CH2M HILL was selected by the S&WB in 2013 to provide program management, design, design-build, procurement support, engineering services and construction services for the HMGP, which will help protect life and property; provide a secure foundation for economic development; protect public health and the environment; lower operation and maintenance costs by replacing outdated and inefficient equipment; and protect local, state, and national economic and security interests embodied in New Orleans’ position as a major port hub for numerous industries.

Having a resiliency plan in place before a hurricane or other weather event strikes is beneficial to ensure cities and communities are prepared and have the proper procedures in place to protect people and property. Investing in preparedness and planning strategies upfront can ultimately save hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly repairs and damage.

Get more information on water, climate and flood management or contact us for more information about preparedness studies and resiliency planning.

Adam Hosking is experienced in the preparation of long-term strategic management plans and the development of planning frameworks for adaptation and risk management. His expertise includes reviewing and appraising climate change impacts on a wide range of infrastructure and developing policy options to address changes. Mr. Hosking will also be presenting at SIWW on resilience for water supply infrastructure during the ‘Water Supply for Extreme Events’ Hot Topic workshop on Sunday, June 1, and is an invited posted judge during the Poster Presentation session on Monday, June 2. He serves as CH2M HILL’s Deputy Service Leader for Water Resources and Ecosystem Management.