Webinar Addresses Climate Impacts on Water Infrastructure

Oct. 29, 2021

Water Solutions for Our Warmer World is a six-part public webinar series hosted by the Arizona Institutes for Resilience, the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, and the WRRC. The series offers analyses and recommendations on the emerging challenges related to the broad range of climate change impacts on water. Episode 5: Water and Infrastructure: Building for the Future aired live from 4:00 to 5:30 PM on Wednesday, October 20. Moderator Courtney Crosson, a licensed architect and UArizona assistant professor, kept the discussion lively among the distinguished panelists. Green infrastructure was featured in a conversation that ranged widely across the spectrum of relevant concepts. Cathleen Kelly, a senior fellow for Energy and Environment at the Center for American Progress who specializes in US and international climate and sustainable development policy, spoke urgently about the need for the US Congress to act on pending infrastructure legislation. Kelly emphasized that the issues the two pending bills address have been deferred and ignored too long, creating a perilous situation.

Dr. Bilal Ayyub, University of Maryland (UM) professor and director of UM’s Center for Technology and Systems Management, spoke from the viewpoint of an engineer and advocated the use of innovative engineering approaches to planning and design for climate-resilient infrastructure. The practical challenges of moving toward widespread adoption of “net zero” water-use building design were highlighted by David Herd, managing partner of Buro Happold, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. Herd’s collaborative approach to sustainability planning and design synced with comments by Adriana Zuniga-Teran, an assistant research scientist at UArizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning. Dr. Zuniga-Teran focused her remarks on the essential requirement that communities, especially disadvantaged communities, be engaged in decisions that affect their lives. The panelists agreed that justice demands a more equitable distribution of risks and benefits across the full spectrum of what may be considered infrastructure and that the current focus on increasing resilience may provide an opportunity to rebalance the system.

Image: East Verde River, Cindy Rettinger, WRRC 2020 Photo Contest