A team of researchers led by Wayne State University has published a study intended to help state and local water authorities make decisions about where to prioritize funding for infrastructure improvements in water service line replacement programs. drinkable.
study, Improving decision making: A sociotechnical services-based framework for drinking water investments, was recently published by the American Chemical Society in Engineering ES&T. Driven by underinvestment, the investment gap between needed and available funding for the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is projected to grow to $136 billion by 2039. In light of such a funding gap , state agencies and local utilities must make decisions about how to invest limited available funds by prioritizing public water systems with the most to gain.
According to the research team, states should prioritize funding projects to ensure not only compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act — the national drinking water regulations — but also to maximize the public health benefit.
The Wayne State and University of Michigan research team developed a decision framework that incorporates drinking water quality characteristics with community and environmental quality attributes.
“Drinking water infrastructure suffers from a lack of data,” said Sara Schwetschenau, Ph.D., a former Wayne State Civil and Environmental Engineering postdoctoral fellow and current postdoctoral researcher at the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University. . “As a result, decisions are based on limited water system data and often without context of overall environmental exposures. However, people do not experience health risks from water independently of other modes of environmental risk, and this perspective should be included in infrastructure decision-making This method was developed in response to this concern and aims to help water utility decision-makers use existing data sources, water records and other demographic and exposure data, to improve their practices existing decision-making.”
Additionally, this new decision-making tool will help agencies and policymakers identify the implications and trade-offs between different regulations or funding guidelines prior to rulemaking.
“Using this tool will help policymakers understand the larger benefits to be realized,” said Shawn McElmurry, Ph.D., professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State. “Policymakers will have a better understanding of the sensitivity of funding decisions and will be better able to identify communities that have an increased likelihood of lead exposure and are at greatest risk of adverse health effects or have a reduced ability to cope with the consequences of exposure”.
The study was funded as part of the Water Infrastructure and Health, Resilience, and Learning (WHIRL) Project supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants CBET-1832591 and CBET-1832692.
Wayne State authors of the paper include Schwetschenau, McElmurry and Richard J. Smith, professor and associate dean for Research, School of Social Work. Authors from the University of Michigan include Alyssa Schubert, Ph.D. student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Seth Guikema, professor, Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, and co-director of the Center for Risk Analysis, Engineering for Informed Decisions; and Nancy G. Love, Borchardt and Glysson Collegiate Professor and JoAnn Silverstein University Distinguished Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering.