Approved by the Energy, Environment and Water Policy Committee on December 17, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 28, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction July 13, 2019


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) urges all levels of governments and private enterprises to adopt a systems approach for planning, designing, constructing, financing, maintaining, and operating resilient water resources infrastructure. Comprehensive system wide perspectives considering social, economic, and environmental issues should be addressed to make these systems more resilient. This should include life cycle analyses, which incorporate future climate conditions, economic and financial viability; affected stakeholders; and cooperation on legislative and regulatory affairs across all levels of government. Further, research and innovation demonstrations are is needed across infrastructure planning, design, construction, operations and financing.

Planning for adaptive and resilient water resources infrastructure should employ a life-cycle approach with distinct milestones over selected time horizons (e.g. 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 years) that includes assessment of multiple benefit streams, operational considerations, and periodic project review. Infrastructure systems should be maintained, recognizing that design parameters may change based on climate variability and modifications to conditions in the watershed. Consideration should be given to emergency contingency plans and strengthening infrastructure against extreme events to provide increased levels of protection and promote quicker recovery.


Ongoing changes in climate are increasing risks to local communities, threatening regional economies, and degrading the health and productivity of our ecosystems. Our water infrastructure and related water governance must evolve now to address changing conditions and social needs. Many tools employed in water resources transcend political boundaries and roles. Water follows topography rather than political boundaries, leading to an overlapping of management and regulatory interests. Upstream management actions and land-uses affect downstream water resources. Cooperation is needed to transcend barriers and create sustainable, integrated water resources projects in the best interest of the public.

To be resilient, water resources projects require a systems-based approach that incorporates all tools, resources, and program elements (e.g. stormwater and flood control, ecosystem, water, sewer, parks, transportation, and coastal). Too often, perceived regulatory barriers or political boundaries dictate less effective and more expensive solutions at the expense of sound management of our water resources and life and property protection.


Strengthening the resilience of water resources infrastructure will keep local communities safer, enhance regional and national economic productivity, and help maintain the quality and services provided by a healthy ecosystem. Creating resilient water resources infrastructure requires a comprehensive, watershed-wide systems approach that draws upon key stakeholders and tools and coordinates resources and decision making across programs. This holistic approach will lead to more comprehensive, cost-effective, and lasting solutions to the water resources challenges.

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 540
First Approved in 2013