A West Virginia University expert is focused on what climate change could mean for safe drinking water access and flooding potential worldwide. 

Omar Abdul-Aziz, associate professor in the Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, part of the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, conducts research on stream water quality and freshwater flooding due to intense rainfall and increased urbanization in large-scale inland and coastal watersheds. 

He recently released a water tool for gauging stream pollution with easily attainable data.

Wednesday (March 22) is World Water Day. It follows this week’s release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report calling for immediate action to reverse climate change globally. 


“Water quality in most streams and rivers in the habituated parts of the world can be considered impaired. Unfortunately, this downward spiral in stream and river water quality is expected to accelerate under increasing temperature and increasing rainfall-runoff carrying pollutants with the climatic and land use changes. Our leaders and policymakers need to work with the scientists, engineers and people alike, to understand and mitigate these impending health hazards before it is too late.

“Several decades ago, the majority of the climatic simulation models indicated the potential increase in extreme rainfall events and associated flooding, specifically in the tropical through temperate regions of the world, by the middle through the end of the 21st century. Surprisingly, we did not have to wait that long. We can see these happening more frequently and intensely over the past 5-10 years. 

“Flooding and inundation have now become the most formidable challenges worldwide, across the country and in the greater Appalachia region. More research than ever is needed to understand, predict, assess and mitigate the intensifying flooding risks and hazards under climate changes and increasing urbanization that demand large monetary investments and social awareness at the grassroots level.” — Omar Abdul-Aziz, associate professor, Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources