Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Christopher M. Chini, PhD


Many of the United States’ major cities that have a high population are located along the coast. The number of people residing in low elevation coastal areas, be-low 10 meters, is increasing. Coastal areas may be affected by various short- and long-term climate hazards, such as sea level rise (SLR). Climate change induced SLR will threaten residents and infrastructure in low-lying coastal areas. A household’s capacity to respond to hazards is highly dependent on its socio-demographic situation which determines its social vulnerability. Wastewater treatment facilities area particularly critical piece of infrastructure often located in low-lying areas due to gravity fed collection systems. Additionally, flooding of these infrastructure systems can lead to the spread of disease and contamination of water sources. In this analysis, we utilized a geographic information system to assess the exposure of wastewater infrastructure to sea level rise projections in the conterminous United States. We then paired these inundation estimates against the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to investigate inequities in infrastructure impact. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare the SVI of populations near wastewater treatment plants that were inundated to those that were not inundated at sea level rise projections. Of the 1,040 wastewater treatment plants within two kilometers of the coast in the United States, 394 treatment facilities are in danger of inundation at 10 feet of sea level rise. Interestingly, the results of the ANOVA tests revealed some statistical differences in social vulnerability indexes of impacted populations and infrastructure against non-impacted populations.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release: 88ABW-2023-0395