Scenarios, sustainability, and critical infrastructure risk mitigation in water planning
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This paper examines the state of water supply planning facing unprecedented challenges for ensuring reliable, resilient, safe, and affordable water supplies in Texas and throughout the US. Analysis of water planning methods and practices reveals a robustly sophisticated quantitative modeling capability. Its focus is on both near-term and long-term capital investment requirements and managing operating costs. Water planning focuses on drought mitigation and flood risk management as predominant concerns. But climate change is impacting whole watersheds as well as water systems subject to sea level rise incursions that disrupt wastewater systems. Significant cross-impacts between energy and water add new risks to both energy and water infrastructure, with uncertainties still difficult to robustly quantify. Energy-water nexus issues reflect deeper planning challenges concerning critical infrastructures. Critical infrastructure planning tends to be sectoral-specific even though interdependencies and cross impacts can create broadly impactful cascade effects. Future-state water planning should be done in the context of critical infrastructure planning. Both will benefit from integrating qualitative scenario planning into established quantitative planning models. Doing so expands the complexity that can be captured in planning while providing narratives and using decision-making and public communications tools.