Climate change impacts on wastewater infrastructure: A systematic review and typological adaptation strategy

Jibin Li, Xuan Li*, Huan Liu, Li Gao, Weitong Wang, Zhenyao Wang, Ting Zhou, Qilin Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Wastewater infrastructures play an indispensable role in society's functioning, human production activities, and sanitation safety. However, climate change has posed a serious threat to wastewater infrastructures. To date, a comprehensive summary with rigorous evidence evaluation for the impact of climate change on wastewater infrastructure is lacking. We conducted a systematic review for scientific literature, grey literature, and news. In total, 61,649 documents were retrieved, and 96 of them were deemed relevant and subjected to detailed analysis. We developed a typological adaptation strategy for city-level decision-making for cities in all-income contexts to cope with climate change for wastewater structures. 84% and 60% of present studies focused on the higher-income countries and sewer systems, respectively. Overflow, breakage, and corrosion were the primary challenge for sewer systems, while inundation and fluctuation of treatment performance were the major issues for wastewater treatment plants. In order to adapt to the climate change impact, typological adaptation strategy was developed to provide a simple guideline to rapidly select the adaptation measures for vulnerable wastewater facilities for cities with various income levels. Future studies are encouraged to focus more on the model-related improvement/prediction, the impact of climate change on other wastewater facilities besides sewers, and countries with low or lower-middle incomes. This review provided insight to comprehensively understand the climate change impact on wastewater facilities and facilitate the policymaking in coping with climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120282
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Early online date1 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • strategy
  • systematic review
  • wastewater infrastructure


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