UMass Amherst Hosts Training for Group of International Water Managers

 AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting a World Bank training workshop for water managers from developing countries April 24-28 where participants from six countries will learn about risks associated with climate change and their potential the long-term impacts on water infrastructure.

The training is being conducted by the the Hydrosystems Research Group of the department of civil and environmental engineering at UMass Amherst. There are 13 water managers attending the training along with four World Bank staff members. Participants from Kenya, Nepal, South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia and the U.S. will learn how climate change can affect hydropower facilities, dams and water supply systems. It is common for major infrastructure projects to be designed with an expected operating life of 50 or even 100 years. Emerging knowledge about the long-term behavior of the global climate system and changes in other non-climate factors that may affect water system performance means that water systems infrastructure planning is a process of decision making under uncertainty.  

Casey Brown, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UMass Amherst, one of the organizers of the training, says this event shows the key role the university plays in preparing officials around the world for the future climate. “The engineering profession is at a change point. We need to design infrastructure to be resilient in a world of change. We have water planners from around the world here to learn how.” 

The training workshop will provide background on the Decision Tree Framework, developed by Brown and Patrick Ray, former research professor at UMass Amherst and currently an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. The Decision Tree Framework is a four-phase assessment methodology developed to understand risk associated with climate change and their potential impacts on water infrastructure.

Training sessions take place at the UMass Amherst Campus Center and will include sessions for participants to learn climate change science as well as hands-on sessions to develop modeling tools for evaluating water infrastructure systems. Earlier this week, the group took a field trip to the U.S. Geological Survey’s S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center in Turners Falls and the Cabot Station hydroelectric facility and fishway. Fish passage over hydraulic structures is a critical component in the design to ensure species connectivity along a river above and below a facility. This experience allowed the training participants to see a working full-scale fish passage research facility.