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Why Upgrading Infrastructure is Essential: Ensuring Resilience in Critical Times


resilient infrastructure

Resilient infrastructure plays a crucial role in dealing with severe weather events. A recent article highlighted the success of Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) during the January ice storm. Despite power outages, their upgraded Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant remained functional and provided a continuous supply of water. This event emphasizes the importance of infrastructure upgrades in ensuring the delivery of essential services during emergencies.


The backbone of any modern society, infrastructure systems like water and electricity supply networks, must be robust enough to withstand various challenges, from natural disasters to technical failures. Upgrades, such as the installation of backup generators and earthquake-resilient tanks, are not mere luxuries but necessities in ensuring uninterrupted service delivery, especially in times of crisis.


Proactive Measures Pay Off: EWEB's Success Story


EWEB's proactive approach in fortifying their infrastructure paid off during the recent ice storm. The investment in a backup generator in 2020 proved invaluable as it kept the Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant operational for over 36 hours, mitigating the impact of power loss. This allowed EWEB to continue providing clean water to its customers, even as repair efforts were underway to address damaged water mains and pump stations.

One of the critical insights gleaned from this event is the interconnectedness of infrastructure systems. EWEB's ability to monitor and maintain pressure in its pump stations, despite challenging terrain and power outages, highlights the importance of a holistic approach to infrastructure resilience. Moreover, the coordination between different departments within EWEB, from distribution teams to fleet management, underscores the necessity of cohesive strategies in emergency response.


Challenges Lead to Opportunities: Areas for Improvement


However, the challenges faced by EWEB during the ice storm also shed light on areas for further improvement. The difficulty in accessing sites for generator refueling due to icy conditions underscores the need for adaptable logistical plans in emergency scenarios. Investing in technologies that facilitate remote monitoring and automation can also enhance the efficiency of response efforts, especially in inaccessible or hazardous environments.


Looking ahead, EWEB's commitment to long-term resilience is commendable. The installation of earthquake-resilient tanks and plans for additional water treatment plants demonstrate foresight in preparing for future challenges. By diversifying water sources and fortifying infrastructure, EWEB is not only safeguarding its services against natural disasters but also future-proofing its operations in a changing climate.


The recent success of EWEB's upgraded infrastructure during the ice storm serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of resilience in critical times. Upgrading infrastructure is not a choice but a necessity, ensuring the continued delivery of essential services and safeguarding communities against unforeseen challenges. As we navigate an increasingly uncertain future, investing in resilient infrastructure must remain a priority for utilities and governments alike, ensuring the resilience and sustainability of our communities for generations to come.


Sources:

By Ryan Bonham (Feb5, 2024). System resiliency improvements kept EWEB’s water flowing during ice storm. https://www.kezi.com/news/local/system-resiliency-improvements-kept-eweb-s-water-flowing-during-ice-storm/article_43438082-c480-11ee-8f20-4bb370305360.html

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