A new study provides a framework for prioritizing investments in drinking water systems

A team of researchers from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan created a decision-making tool that will help agencies and policymakers identify the implications and trade-offs between different regulations or funding guidelines before rulemaking. Credit: Alexis Wright, student, Department of Art and Art History, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, Wayne State University

A team of researchers led by Wayne State University has published a study that aims to help state and local water authorities make decisions about where to prioritize funding for infrastructure improvements to pipeline replacement programs. drinking water. The study, Improved Decision Making: A Sociotechnical Utility-Based Framework for Drinking Water Investment, was recently published in ACS ES&T Engineering.

Driven by underinvestment, the investment gap between needed and available funds for the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is expected to grow to $136 billion by 2039. In light of such a lack of funding, state agencies and local utilities must make decisions how to invest limited available funds by prioritizing public water systems with the greatest return.

According to the research team, states should prioritize funding projects to ensure not only compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act — the nation’s drinking water regulations — but also to maximize public health benefits.

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 Dr. Sara Schwetschenau, a former postdoctoral fellow in civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State and current postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University. “As a result, decisions are based on limited data about the water system and often without the context of the overall environmental exposure.” However, people do not experience health risks from water independently of other types of environmental risk, and this perspective should be included in infrastructure decision-making. This method was developed in response to this concern and is intended to help water supply decision makers use existing data sources, water data and other demographic and exposure data to improve their existing practices of solutions.

In addition, 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 greatest benefits to be realized,” said Sean McElmurry, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State. “Policymakers will have a better understanding of the sensitivity of funding allocation decisions and will be better able to identify communities that have an increased likelihood of lead exposure and are at greatest risk of negative health outcomes or have reduced ability to cope with the consequences of exposure.”


The study is the first to confirm that lead in water causes adverse effects on fetal health


More info:
Sara E. Schwetschenau et al, Improved Decision Making: A Sociotechnical Utility-Based Framework for Drinking Water Investments, ACS ES&T Engineering (2022). DOI: 10.1021/acsestengg.2c00008

Provided by Wayne State University

Quote: New Study Provides Framework for Prioritizing Investment in Drinking Water Systems (2022, July 13), Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-framework-prioritizing-investment .html

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