NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer Boosts Wastewater Safety through 2070

The Takeaway: This Digital Coast tool helped the Jackson County Utility Authority pick a wastewater treatment locale away from rising flood hazards, potentially saving millions in repair costs.

Mississippi’s Jackson County Utility Authority was faced with a critical decision—where to locate a new facility for collecting, treating, and repurposing wastewater. Two longtime facilities near the Pascagoula River had flooded completely during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and partly during 2017’s Hurricane Nate, causing millions in damages. Using NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer, the facility project team chose the new site by exploring Jackson County areas that will remain dry for the next 50 years at medium-to-high sea level rise scenarios of three to five feet

The all-in-one treatment facility, to be built over the next several years, will be located near Pascagoula’s industrial center. A next step for the project team—combining the sea level rise findings with storm surge data, the latter provided by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science—will determine the height of any protective berms placed around the new facility.

The authority is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project’s conceptual design. Support for the facility includes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and $3 million in support through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. (2019)

Partners: Jackson County Utility Authority, NOAA’s Digital Coast and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency