An Imperfect Storm

Recent flooding in Puget Sound shows that predictive models work, but do not cover water infrastructure directly

The December 27, 2022, flooding around Whidbey Island was a foretaste of a future with climate change and sea level rise. The flooding highlights the risks our water systems face from sea water intrusion and other potential problems such as inundation of equipment, loss of power, and contamination from damaged sewer and septic infrastructure.

This article shows that sea level rise and flood risk models accurately predict the areas affected by flooding. Unfortunately, none of these models directly addresses the risk to infrastructure such as water systems as the necessary data is simply not there. It’s up to water systems to assess their exposure to sea level rise and other risks.

Tools such as the EPA’s Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT) ( do exist. We suggest that water systems carry out a vulnerability assessment using this or a similar tool. Those with sea level rise exposure should do this in conjunction with the one or more of the models linked in this article.

We will look at covering this topic in a future member meeting.