Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities

Posted on: 7/31/2017 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities is an interactive PDF that can guide water utility managers through a flood risk reduction planning process. This digital resource, complete with worksheets, videos, and examples, takes managers through a four-step process to evaluate and enhance flood resilience of utility infrastructure and facilities. Steps include: identifying flood threats, evaluating vulnerable utility infrastructure and consequences of flooding, evaluating flood mitigation options, and developing a flood mitigation implementation plan. To enhance understanding of flood risk, the guide provides direction on interpreting FEMA flood maps, and helps managers link flood projections with their established infrastructure, evaluating the economic, operational, and public safety risks if various flood levels were experienced. With a better understanding of facility and infrastructure vulnerability, the guide then assists managers with exploring, developing, and prioritizing various flood mitigation options to reduce flood risk. Users can explore all options, or jump to mitigation strategies specifically for drinking water and wastewater systems. The guide also outlines how prioritized options can be integrated into an implementation plan with short-term and long-term planning horizons. This resource is intended primarily for water utility managers looking to enhance flood resilience and protect critical assets, but its general approach can be used by other groups to reduce flood risk (e.g., city planners).

Example in use: This guide was modeled after successful flood mitigation pilot process undertaken by the EPA and the Water Department of Berwick, Maine. After storm flooding almost incapacitated Berwick’s small water utility, the utility went through this four-stage process to better understand its flood risk, identify its most vulnerable infrastructure, and develop and implement various mitigation measures. The city has implemented several short-term solutions (e.g., sandbags, installing backflow preventers), and is integrating longer-term flood resilience strategies into a capital improvement program. These resilience efforts are already paying dividends, as they helped minimize utility flood damage and operational shutdowns during a recent storm cycle.

Phase of Adaptation: Assessment, Planning


Water utility managers, local authorities, planners, engineers


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


The Environmental Protection Agency has ten Regional offices, each of which is responsible for the execution of the Agency's programs within several states and territories.