Building Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Events in the Rural Water and Wastewater Sectors

Nathan P. Kettle, Sarah F. Trainor, Renee Edwards, Donald Antrobus, Curt Baranowski, Tina Buxbaum, Kevin Berry, Michael Brubaker, Kristine L. De Long, Steve Fries, et al.
Posted on: 9/25/2023 - Updated on: 9/25/2023

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Extreme weather and climate events pose significant risks to rural water and wastewater systems. We examine the vulnerability of the water sector to weather and climate extremes in rural, predominantly Indigenous and underserved coastal areas and analyze how networks support resilience.

Drawing on the analysis of 39 web-based questionnaire responses and 19 interviews with rural water and wastewater managers and service providers in southern Louisiana and western Alaska, this article reports a range of interrelated historical, environmental, and social factors that influence vulnerability to extreme weather events.

Formal and informal social networks serve multiple roles in building resilience. These roles include building technical and financial capacities, supporting emergency response and operational- to long-term planning, fostering data collection and monitoring, supporting information sharing and innovative research, and providing institutional support.

Results from this research enrich our understanding of the social, relational, and networking processes that condition community resilience to extreme weather events.

Research Impact Statement: Networks build resilience to extreme weather in the rural water sector by supporting human capacity, operations and response, data monitoring, information sharing, institutional support, and research.


Kettle, N.P., Trainor, S.F., Edwards, R., Antrobus, D., Baranowski, C., Buxbaum, T., Berry, K., Brubaker, M., De Long, K.L., Fries, S., Holen, D., Keim, B., Meeker, D., Penn, H., Rosa, C., Thoman, R., Walsh, J. Zhang, J. (2023). Building resilience to extreme weather and climate events in the rural water and wastewater sectors. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 00:1–18. DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.13151.

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