IWA Publishing

Water shortages and extreme events: a call for research


Water shortages as a result of extreme weather events, such as flooding and severe cold, have the potential to affect significant numbers of people. Therefore, the need to build robust, coordinated plans based on scientific evidence is crucial. The literature review outlined in this short communication was conducted as part of a joint Drinking Water Inspectorate and Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) report which aimed to review the scientific evidence base on extreme events, water shortages and the resulting health impacts. A systematic literature review was undertaken to identify published literature from both peer-reviewed and grey literature sources. The retrieved literature was then assessed using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network quality assessment. The authors found very few scientific studies. However, a great deal of valuable grey literature was retrieved and used by the research team. In total, six main themes of importance that were identified by the review and discussed included health impacts, water quantity and quality, alternative supplies, vulnerable groups, communication with those affected and the emergency response. The authors conclude that more research needs to be conducted on health impacts and extreme events water shortages in order to build the future knowledge base and development of resilience.

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