Water Research Foundation Launches Project on Resilient Water Infrastructure

This project will be a key step in helping drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems become resilient enterprises.

DENVER--()--The Water Research Foundation has launched a new project to improve the resiliency of water utilities, specifically around infrastructure needs. The project, Resilient Water Infrastructure: Improving Understanding and Assessing Needs (#4707), will gather information from regions and municipalities (both small and large) with various risk factors or hazards, including extreme rainfall and flooding, sea level rise, aging infrastructure, cyber threats, seismic activity, and drought.

“WRF has a long history of funding research on resiliency”

“WRF has a long history of funding research on resiliency,” said Rob Renner, CEO of the Water Research Foundation. “This new project, along with another ongoing resiliency project, will expand on previous work by examining the needs of the drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater sectors, specifically in the area of infrastructure.”

In support of that overall aim, this project has the following objectives:

  • Establish a common definition for “resilient infrastructure” in the context of the water utility sector in the United States
  • Identify existing resources, ongoing efforts, best practices, and potential partner agencies or organizations addressing infrastructure resilience in the water sector, both in the United States and internationally
  • Identify and prioritize a set of targeted research needs and objectives to underpin the development of pragmatic tools and guidance for water utilities

The following activities will be conducted to meet the objectives of the project:

  • Targeted Literature Review: This task will provide a practical understanding of water utility resilience, specifically addressing infrastructure resilience across small, medium and large utilities spanning public, private and corporatized legal modes.
  • Pre-Workshop Interviews: Stakeholder interviews will seek to identify knowledge gaps and existing research activities already being undertaken, in the United States and globally.
  • Workshop (August 23‒24, 2017, Denver, CO): A facilitated workshop will explore participants’ understandings of resilient water infrastructure and the key knowledge gaps that exist around the concept.
  • Post-Workshop Synthesis and Voting: Drawing on the results of the literature review, interviews, and workshop, a guide of existing resources and ongoing research efforts in the area will be created. A set of potential definitions for resilient water infrastructure, as well as a set of research needs for the topic will be created. These will be compiled into an online survey tool and distributed to a wide range of respondents (including workshop participants). The survey will ask respondents to rank proposed definitions and proposed research questions.

The project has been awarded to Cranfield University (UK), with Heather Smith, PhD, serving as the Principal Investigator. For more information or to provide input, please contact Alison Witheridge, WRF Research Manager, at awitheridge@waterrf.org or 303-347-6103.

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is a non-profit research cooperative that advances the science of water to protect public health and the environment. Governed by utilities, WRF delivers scientifically sound research solutions and knowledge to serve our subscribers and stakeholders in all areas of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse. WRF has funded and managed more than 1,500 research studies from asset management to treatment, utility finance to resource management, conveyance systems to water quality.


Water Research Foundation
Adam Lang, 303-347-6259

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