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Consortium Wins Grant to Assess Health Risks of Vulnerable Water Infrastructure

Feb 15, 2016

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium recently received a $270,606 NOAA grant to study public health risks when extreme floods, strong storm surge, or rising sea levels impact coastal drinking water and wastewater systems. Liz Fly, the Consortium’s coastal climate extension specialist, will lead the two-year study in collaboration with researchers from University of South Carolina, East Carolina University, N.C. Sea Grant, and Saint Louis University. Charleston, S.C., and Morehead City, N.C., were chosen as the pilot study areas because they represent a cross section of the Southeast region.

The project team will gather data on water infrastructure and evaluate it under current conditions, higher sea levels, and a combination of storm surges and higher sea levels. The researchers then will use the data to generate maps of the most vulnerable areas and identify at-risk populations living and working near coastal waters. A simple, customizable tool – called a Susceptibility Index – will be developed for decision makers to assess the health risks of these populations under a range of weather and climate scenarios. In addition, a companion guidebook on how to use the Susceptibility Index tool also will be produced, so coastal communities in the Southeast will have the knowledge and tools to evaluate and respond to potential public health risks.

More about the project >