On April 24 to 28, the UMass Amherst and the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department hosted a World Bank training workshop for water managers from developing countries. According to a UMass News Office release, participants from six countries learned about risks associated with climate change and their potential long-term impacts on water infrastructure. CEE Associate Professor Casey Brown, one of the organizers of the training, said that “The engineering profession is at a change point. We need to design infrastructure to be resilient in a world of change. We had water planners from around the world here to learn how.” See Satellite PR News.
The training was being conducted by the Hydrosystems Research Group in the CEE department. There were 13 water managers attending the training along with four World Bank staff members. Participants from Kenya, Nepal, South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia, and the U.S. learned how climate change can affect hydropower facilities, dams, and water supply systems.
The News Office article explained that it is common for major infrastructure projects to be designed with an expected operating life of 50 or even 100 years. Emerging knowledge about the long-term behavior of the global climate system and changes in other non-climate factors that may affect water system performance means that water systems infrastructure planning is a process of decision making under uncertainty.
Among other topics, the training workshop provided background on the Decision Tree Framework, developed by Brown and Patrick Ray, former research professor at UMass Amherst and currently an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. The Decision Tree Framework is a four-phase assessment methodology developed to understand risk associated with climate change and their potential impacts on water infrastructure.
Training sessions took place at the UMass Amherst Campus Center and included sessions for participants to learn climate-change science as well as hands-on sessions to develop modeling tools for evaluating water infrastructure systems. In addition, the training group took a field trip to the U.S. Geological Survey’s S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center in Turners Falls and the Cabot Station hydroelectric facility and fishway.
Fish passage over hydraulic structures is a critical component in the design to ensure species connectivity along the river above and below a facility. This experience allowed the training participants to see a working full-scale fish passage research facility. (May 2017)