Study Finds U.S. Water Infrastructure to be Inadequate for Increasingly Severe Weather

Current design standards for U.S. hydrologic infrastructure are not adequate for addressing the increased frequency and severity of extreme rainstorms, according to a report published last month in Geophysical Research Letters.

Researchers studied a variety of regions in the country and found that the growing number of severe weather events could overwhelm outdated infrastructure, including stormwater systems, dams, and retention ponds. The study attributes the increase in severe weather to climate warming and predicts that the frequency will continue to increase.

“The take-home message is that infrastructure in most parts of the country is no longer performing at the level that it’s supposed to, because of the big changes that we’ve seen in extreme rainfall, said Daniel Wright, a hydrologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the study.

The researchers recommend updating U.S. hydrologic infrastructure guidelines to meet the new challenges.

Click here to view the report.