The Wingspread Event on Great Lakes Restoration and Climate Change (15-17 April 2014) convened renowned regional and national leaders, scientists and other Great Lakes stakeholders to discuss climate change impacts on restoration efforts in this vital system. Through plenary addresses and working groups, attendees discussed various ways policymakers can improve existing restoration efforts in the Great Lakes and develop new ways to address the effects of climate change on this vital system.
Impending hydrological changes in Wisconsin due to climate change combined with vulnerabilities due to failing infrastructure pose a public health threat, with increasingly extreme precipitation and leaky pipes promoting waterborne diseases that hit children hardest. More than half of the documented waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States have followed heavy storms.
Children under age 5 are most vulnerable to acute diarrhea and its complication of severe
dehydration. The viruses that cause diarrhea are routinely found in groundwater and migrate
into public water distribution systems even after treatment.
We are beginning to glimpse the tip of the iceberg of rain-related disease, but its true incidence and costs to society are not yet fully quantified. The true incidence of waterborne disease in the United States is likely underestimated.
Pathogen tracking and public communication strategies modeled after heat wave warning systems can educate the public about local risks and inform targeted boil-water advisories.
Our water and sewer infrastructure were designed under assumptions that no longer hold true.
A wetter Wisconsin with more frequent, intense storms will tax that failing infrastructure, increasing the risk of waterborne disease. The extreme storms that wreaked catastrophic
flooding and historic damage in 2008 and 2010— causing the state to request millions in federal disaster assistance because the deluge overwhelmed our infrastructure—are consistent with the future pattern of climate change predicted for Wisconsin.
Impending hydrological changes due to climate change, combined with vulnerabilities due to failing infrastructure, pose a threat to public health. More frequent and intense storm events combined with leaky wastewater and drinking water pipes can promote waterborne diseases, often affecting children the most. This series of policy briefs explores the linkages between climate change and rain-related disease, providing details about the potential challenges facing Wisconsin and what policymakers can do to overcome them.
Policy Briefs: A Warmer Wisconsin; Well Water Vulnerability; Water Main Breaks; Stormwater Risks; Proactive Surveillance and Alert Systems; Increased Storm Frequency; Long-Term Epidemiological Studies; Kids At Most Risk; Lateral Replacement; Improving Infrastructure