Bibliographic Metadata

Energy blackouts and water outages : a risk management approach towards raising awareness and assuming responsibility / von Isabel Mank
AuthorMank, Isabel
CensorKreuzinger, Norbert
DescriptionXII, 125 S. : Ill., Kt.
Institutional NoteWien, Techn. Univ. u. Diplomat. Akad., Master-Arb., 2015
Document typeMaster Thesis
Keywords (EN)energy blackout / drinking-water / risk management / awareness raising / prevention
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-81249 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Energy blackouts and water outages [1.41 mb]
Abstract (English)

Awareness of the risk of an energy blackout and its effects on the water sector are inadequate. It is undeniable that electricity is needed for water pumps and the mechanical treatment of wastewater. A gravitational water flow can avoid interdependency, which is regionally limited and should not be generalized. This work aims to raise awareness and assume responsibility in order to show that a risk for blackouts and water outages exist in industrialized countries and that planning and preparation are necessary. A risk management approach with five pillars is used as a guideline. The first pillar emphasizes the lack of examination of the effects of a power outage on the water sector. Today-s critical infrastructure is more complex and vulnerable to power outages than ever before. The causes for outages as covered by the second pillar include natural, societal and technical causes. A blackout does not need to be the disaster itself, but can be the result of heat waves or mismanagement. The consequences of blackouts and water outages, as described in pillar three, reach from a halt of water supply and low water quality to disrupted communication and social upheaval. Suddenly common behavioral structures are questioned and communication channels are cut. Missing communication means emphasize the need for in advance preparation and exchange between all stakeholders. Technical mitigation measures such as backup generators can only sustain daily life temporarily, while self-sufficient energy systems and renewable energy sources could provide electricity as energy islands. Social resilience and public/ private partnerships are additional management mechanisms assuring safe drinking-water and hygiene throughout the blackout. Several possible response measures are shared, although their application depends on a variety of aspects, for example: duration of the power outage; the amount of regions or countries concerned; and the season of the year. A fixed plan cannot be applied given that blackouts and water outages are unpredictable. Stakeholder interviews conducted in Austria and international case examples help to define awareness, perceptions and responsibilities towards blackouts and water outages in industrialized countries.