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IWR engineer and planner edits special journal issue on ‘Water infrastructure planning, management and design under climate uncertainty’

Institute for Water Resources
Published May 16, 2022

Dr. Eugene Stakhiv, of IWR’s Water Resources (WRC) in Alexandria, VA, has edited a special issue of the journal Water Policy titled ‘Water infrastructure planning, management and design under climate uncertainty: Methods and approaches in support of the UN High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP)’. Dr. Stakhiv is Technical Director Emeritus of IWR’s International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) and former Chief of the IWR Policy and Special Studies Division.

Climate change and profound societal changes, with their associated uncertainties, impinge on every aspect of water resources planning, management, design and operations. Water resources and coastal protection infrastructure systems—based on planning procedures, engineering design standards and codes—underlie ‘no regrets’, cost-effective adaptation to impacts of climate change, while protecting lives and property in nearby communities. But are our current approaches sufficient in a fast-changing world? 

The issues examined in the 15 papers of this special volume offer practical responses to two fundamental questions: 

  • How can we protect communities and make them more resilient in the face of large uncertainties associated with climate and land-use changes, population increases, and regional population shifts--without spending excessive sums of time and money? And,
  • What should the new, ‘climate-resilient’ standards for proposed or retrofitted existing infrastructure design look like?  

This special issue provides intellectual, but practical, grounding of selected advances that are already in place and practiced by leading institutions, and others that could readily be adapted to better deal with risk and uncertainty in a changing world. These practices take the form of engineering regulations, manuals, and design standards of the water resources engineering institutions, agencies, ministries and professional societies. 

Contributors included water professionals from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and water infrastructure engineering agencies in the U.S., Japan and The Netherlands—who have all been addressing these issues in their updated approaches to climate adaptation. Other contributions came from global academic leaders on engineering design standards, flood risk management under changing conditions, climate variability and drought management. 
In addition to the summary article, Dr. Stakhiv also authored a technical paper in the issue, titled ‘The centrality of engineering codes and risk-based design standards in climate adaptation strategies’.  Dr. Joe Manous, Director of IWR, and Dr. Stakhiv co-authored a paper on ‘Climate risk-informed decision analysis (CRIDA): ‘top-down’ vs ‘bottom-up’ decision making for planning water resources infrastructure’.

The issue is freely available at