Spatial Analysis of Boil Water Advisories Issued During an Extreme Weather Event in the Hudson River Watershed, USA

Applied Geography, 48, 112-121, 2014

34 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2014

See all articles by Sridhar Vedachalam

Sridhar Vedachalam

Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Mary John

Cornell University

Susan Riha

Cornell University

Date Written: February 26, 2014

Abstract

Water infrastructure in the United States is aging and vulnerable to extreme weather. In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit the eastern part of New York and surrounding states, causing great damage to public drinking water systems. Several water supply districts issued boil water advisories (BWAs) to their customers as a result of the storm. This study seeks to identify the major factors that lead water supply systems to issue BWAs by assessing watershed characteristics, water supply system characteristics and treatment plant parameters of water districts in the Mohawk-Hudson River watershed in New York. Logistic regression model suggests that the probability of a BWA being issued by a water supply district is enhanced by higher precipitation during the storm, high density of septic systems, lack of recent maintenance and low population density. Interviews with water treatment plant operators suggested physical damage to water distribution systems were the main causes of boil water advisories during storms. BWAs result in additional costs to residents and communities, and the public compliance of the advisory instructions is low, so efforts must be made to minimize their occurrence. Prior investments in infrastructure management can proactively address municipal water supply and quality issues.

Keywords: Boil water advisory, Tropical Storm Irene, Mohawk-Hudson watershed, extreme weather, water infrastructure, water main break

JEL Classification: R14, R53

Suggested Citation

Vedachalam, Sridhar and John, Mary and Riha, Susan, Spatial Analysis of Boil Water Advisories Issued During an Extreme Weather Event in the Hudson River Watershed, USA (February 26, 2014). Applied Geography, 48, 112-121, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2401693

Sridhar Vedachalam (Contact Author)

Environmental Policy Innovation Center

777 6th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Mary John

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Susan Riha

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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