The impact of droughts in California is becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change, population growth, agricultural intensification and regulatory change. In 2020, Governor Newsom announced the Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative, a multi-billion dollar effort that encourages different water utilities and irrigation districts to work together to build shared infrastructure to ameliorate the effects of droughts.
In light of these trends, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Cornell University explored three important questions in a new article published online by the journal Earth’s Future. In the article, the researchers explored costs, benefits and risks of investment partnerships in water infrastructure as well as the potential impact of climate change on designing these partnerships.
Co-authors from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health are recent alum Andrew L. Hamilton, PhD (now a postdoctoral associate at Cornell); Research Scientist Harrison B. Zeff, PhD; and Gregory Characklis, PhD, W. R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor.
The study’s results demonstrate how poorly planned partnerships can lead to significant financial risk for water providers under unfavorable future scenarios. The authors posit that financial resilience should be a key aspect of water supply resilience planning in California and other regions.