Floods, droughts, capacity needs and variability impact the design, maintenance and operations of hydraulic infrastructures such as dams, levees, sea walls and reservoirs. Buildings and bridges, government or commercial facilities and supply chains, are vulnerable to water hazards. Water availability and quality impact water distribution and wastewater systems. Lifeline sectors, specifically the interdependent water, energy, transport and communication infrastructures and networks, must be resilient to floods, which may in turn be caused by hurricanes or storm surge in coastal regions and by heavy or continuous precipitation and snowmelt in inland regions. Droughts and water scarcity in watersheds, along with changes in temperatures, quality and salinity of surface and ground water or marine and ocean water, impact infrastructures related to building foundations, offshore constructions, power production, vulnerable ecosystems, public health, and irrigation or agriculture. Natural systems, such as oyster reefs and mangroves along coastal and riverine systems, may complement, and interact with built infrastructures. Damages and failures can cascade across systems, and expected losses depend on exposure of assets and human lives. Fundamental shifts such as climate change, aging of infrastructures, urbanization and land use changes impact water and built infrastructure systems. Aging water distribution and wastewater infrastructures have disrupted supply of potable water and resulted in public health outbreaks, often in combination with contaminated freshwater sources or inadequate emergency medical and mobility infrastructures. Rapid urbanization, whether in developed or developing economies, call for green and gray-green infrastructures. From urban storm water management and green roofs to urban and peri-urban food and energy infrastructures, sustainable development calls for greater interaction between water and the built environment. This specialty area is broadly construed to cover each of these topics.
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