Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Civil and Environmental Engineering

Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

James Malley Jr.


Climate change is a significant issue currently facing the United States’ wastewater treatment sector. It is becoming increasingly clear that its effects have the potential to damage and disrupt the operations of both treatment facilities and associated systems. This study aims to determine which effects of climate change contribute to this risk based on feedback from a combination of academic researchers and industry professionals. A case study of the city of Warwick, Rhode Island’s wastewater treatment facility was used to supplement this information based on an evaluation of how this particular system has been impacted by the effects of climate change. The results show that changes in precipitation, increase in temperature, increase in storm intensity, sea level rise, and decrease in stream flows all threaten the functionality of American wastewater treatment infrastructure. Furthermore, it was found that changes in precipitation—specifically increase in rainfall intensity and decrease in rainfall frequency—have impacted the operations of Warwick’s wastewater treatment facility. These findings make it apparent that necessary measures need to be taken to protect wastewater treatment infrastructure in the United States against the threat of climate change.