August 2013, Vol. 25, No.8

From the editors

We’re gonna need a bigger umbrella

In July, the Syfy network released “Sharknado,” a made-for-television disaster film about a tornado — technically a waterspout — that slurps up a bunch of sharks and hurls them across Los Angeles and Southern California. Campy fun and comically horrific mayhem follow. 

In response, the Internet and social media exploded with joy at the pure ridiculousness of it all. In fact, Consumer Reports interviewed experts at the Insurance Information Institute (New York) to see which of the incidents in the movie would be covered by different types of policies. 

We’re not sure if anyone asked how to get a Great White out of a clarifier, but that’s probably not a pressing question. (Alligators and hippos are a different story! See the July 2012 issue of WE&T bit.ly/WETgator — and the July 2009 issue of WEF Highlights bit.ly/HighlightsHippo .)  

Flying sharks aside, preparing for actual disasters is a serious concern for water resource recovery facilities. Whether the disaster is a sudden and violent thing — such as a flood, earthquake, or landslide — or more gradual and enduring — such as a drought or rising sea level — utilities need to be prepared to keep the water flowing and the wastewater facility operating. 

Two feature articles in this issue look at different aspects of this challenge. “Water, wastewater, and stormwater agencies respond to extreme weather events” draws on case studies of utilities that have survived and recovered from disasters to demonstrate the lessons and best practices that can be applied elsewhere. Then, “What will it cost?” presents a tool created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that can help utilities estimate what disruptions in service will mean for the facilities involved as well as the affected communities. 

While neither of these articles is quite as exciting as a swirling maelstrom of airborne apex predators, we hope they are slightly more useful. 

  

P.S. – If you do have experience with sharks (or any other extreme wildlife) in your facility, we want to hear from you!