Modeling the Impacts of Global Change on Water Availability and the Associated Sustainable Sanitation Technologies

EPA Grant Number: F07A61061
Title: Modeling the Impacts of Global Change on Water Availability and the Associated Sustainable Sanitation Technologies
Investigators: Fry, Lauren M.
Institution: Michigan Technological University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: September 1, 2007 through September 1, 2010
RFA: GRO Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Engineering


The proposed research recognizes the need for accelerated sanitation coverage in the face of global change by investigating the technological, societal, and climatic barriers to sanitation coverage. The research will provide a useful method for investigating the effects of development on water resource sustainability in the context of global change.

Research objectives are to (1) use historical data and projections of population and climate to determine potential impacts of water scarcity, climate change, and urbanization on the likelihood of meeting the Millennium Development Target for sanitation by 2015; (2) investigate the potential for health improvement of different sanitation technologies under global change scenarios analyzed in (1); and (3) model the potential for different sanitation technologies to improve water sustainability and public health in a particular water-stressed watershed.


Research will begin with an analysis of challenges related to water resource availability, the trend toward urbanization, and sanitation technology. The analysis will consider historical data as well as projections of future populations and climate. At the same time, financial, political, and social barriers will be investigated to provide a complete picture of why the world is not on track to meeting the target for sanitation. Then, the potential for public health improvement for various sanitation technologies will be analyzed using relative risks of water-related illnesses for the scenarios analyzed during the first phase. Relative risk, derived from previous epidemiological studies, will be affected by both level of sanitation (i.e. no sanitation, latrine, or excreta removal by flushing toilets) and increased water availability for domestic uses other than sanitation, resulting from improved water efficiency of sanitation technologies. As a result of these first phases, a model will be developed that will project water sustainability and public health improvement that would result from various sanitation technologies, and this will be applied at a watershed scale in a water-stressed region.

Expected Results:

The impacts resulting from the scenario analysis will not be predictions of future water resource sustainability. However, the research will provide a decision support tool for water resources management, presenting an overall picture of possible outcomes of global change on water resources sustainability. The method will demonstrate how incorporating a parameter, such as sanitation water use, into water resource sustainability modeling can provide useful information to policy makers and stakeholders. The method will be easily adaptable for different policy and development strategy investigations, and will be useful for developing countries and industrialized nations alike.

Supplemental Keywords:

sanitation, water resource sustainability, public health, water scarcity, climate change,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Environmental Monitoring, Atmosphere, water resources, climatic influence, urban growth, environmental stressors, ecosystem impacts, ecosystem sustainability, aquatic ecology, Global Climate Change

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008
  • 2009
  • Final