Hypothetical scenario exercises to improve planning and readiness for drinking water quality management during extreme weather events

Water Res. 2017 Mar 15;111:100-108. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2016.12.028. Epub 2016 Dec 19.


Two hypothetical scenario exercises were designed and conducted to reflect the increasingly extreme weather-related challenges faced by water utilities as the global climate changes. The first event was based on an extreme flood scenario. The second scenario involved a combination of weather events, including a wild forest fire ('bushfire') followed by runoff due to significant rainfall. For each scenario, a panel of diverse personnel from water utilities and relevant agencies (e.g. health departments) formed a hypothetical water utility and associated regulatory body to manage water quality following the simulated extreme weather event. A larger audience participated by asking questions and contributing key insights. Participants were confronted with unanticipated developments as the simulated scenarios unfolded, introduced by a facilitator. Participants were presented with information that may have challenged their conventional experiences regarding operational procedures in order to identify limitations in current procedures, assumptions, and readily available information. The process worked toward the identification of a list of specific key lessons for each event. At the conclusion of each simulation a facilitated discussion was used to establish key lessons of value to water utilities in preparing them for similar future extreme events.

Keywords: Climate change; Cyclone; Drought; Extreme weather; Flood; Wildfire.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change
  • Drinking Water*
  • Floods
  • Humans
  • Water Quality
  • Weather*


  • Drinking Water