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EPA's Water Resource Adaptation Program (WRAP)

In this new program, scientists and engineers investigate the potential effects of climate change on the nation’s watersheds and water infrastructure. Based on the results of these investigations, practical and effective adaptation solutions are being developed. The program’s research is also a part of the Drinking Water Research Program and the Global Change Research Program in the Office of Research and Development. The research supports EPA’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Initiative to ensure our nation’s water infrastructure meets future needs of demographic and economic development. WRAP researchers collaborate with academic institutions, water utilities, and other internal and external stakeholders.

The research approach has three basic elements:

  1. To investigate the hydrologic effects of climatic change and define the water resource needs of future socioeconomic conditions. The researchers use a variety of investigating tools, such as climate modeling, robust statistical analysis, and water availability forecasting.
  2. To develop adaptation methods, many focused on advanced and innovative engineering techniques and solutions
  3. To develop and provide end users with the tools needed for water resource adaptation

Researchers consider uncertainties in future predictions and the adaptability of existing infrastructure. This information is used to establish adaptation measures for specific regions and watershed basins, for example:

  • Wastewater reuse in water-stressed Florida, the Great Plains, the Southwest, California, and other west coast regions
  • Saltwater intrusion mitigation in Florida and other coastal states
  • Flash floods and storm water quality management in the Eastern United States, the Ohio River Valley, Puerto Rico, and the Lower Mississippi River Basin

WRAP’s research is supplemental to the EPA’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Initiative, whose goal is to ensure our nation’s water infrastructure meets future needs. WRAP research results are used to identify infrastructure and watershed needs. This helps to ensure that our water supply is of high quality and that water demand from human consumption and economic activity is met.

Facing the Challenge

The earth's climate changes in response to climate forcing—when an alteration in the global energy balance “forces” the climate to change. Climate-forcing mechanisms working in concert with other forcings in the earth’s orbit, ocean circulation, and atmospheric compositional changes, produce hydrological variations we have already observed and the variations that may occur in the future. Even when atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are reduced and the excessive radiative forcing is mitigated, the inertia of the hydrologic changes can continue into the foreseeable future. Thus, adaptability is a key element for sustainable water resource development and utilization.

WRAP’s research centers on adaptability, a core component of sustainability, especially in the context of climate change and demographic and economic development. WRAP capitalizes on EPA’s rich history of drinking water and water quality management research to address these new research areas:

These research areas are designed to provide the scientific basis, technical data, and engineering methods in direct support of three of the five EPA goals:

Goal 1: Clean Air and Global Climate Change Icon Goal 1 – Clean Air and Global Climate Change
Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water Icon Goal 2 – Clean and Safe Water
Goal 5: Compliance and Environmental Stewardship Goal 5 – Compliance and Environmental Stewardship

US EPA Science Brief: "Water Resource Adaptation Program - Addressing the Multi-front Challenge Through Holistic Adaptations" (PDF) (2 pp, 1.5 Mb)Publication No. EPA/600/R-09/014.


Dr. Y. Jeffrey Yang, P.E., D.WRE (513) 569-7655

Dr. James A. Goodrich (513) 569-7605

Other EPA Resources

Water Quality Research

Drinking Water Research

Global Change Research

Climate Change

Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater

2011 – 2015 EPA Strategic Plan

National Research Programs



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