From the Union of Concerned Scientists and Stanford’s Water in the West:
Climate change is fundamentally transforming the way we manage water in the Western U.S. The recent Fourth California Climate Change Assessment lays out the many pressures facing water managers in California in detail. One key take-away of that Assessment is that past climate conditions will not be a good proxy for the state’s water future, and smarter strategies are needed to manage California’s water. Just one-third of the snowpack that the state has historically relied on as a natural water reservoir is projected to remain by 2100; hotter temperatures will dry out soils faster and earlier in the year; and the atmospheric rivers that already cause intense flooding in the state will likely carry more moisture as the atmosphere warms. All of this will require a transformation in the way that we, here in California and elsewhere, plan for our water future.
Four essential policy reforms are needed to reduce the social, economic, and environmental costs of future droughts, says Dr. Mount
From Maven’s Notebook:
California’s climate is changing. Hotter temperatures, a shrinking snowpack, shorter and more intense wet seasons, rising sea level, and more volatile precipitation—with wetter wet years and drier dry years—are stressing the state’s water management system. Recent climate projections indicate that the pace of change will increase. To avoid unwanted social, economic, and environmental consequences, the water system will need to adapt to greater climate extremes and growing water scarcity.
Dr.Jeff Mount is senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California, Water Policy Center. At the Western Groundwater Congress, hosted by Groundwater Resources Association of California, he argued that managing groundwater resources sustainably is the most important climate adaptation measure that the state can implement, and discussed four essential reforms are needed to reduce the social, economic, and environmental costs of future droughts. … “
“While hundreds of local agencies across California draft their plans to ensure the sustainability of groundwater basins, water experts say in a white paper released today that these state-mandated plans need to incorporate climate change impacts to be sustainable. The paper is intended to serve as a resource to help agencies do just that. The white paper was published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Stanford University’s Water in the West program.
“Many water managers are not trained in the climate science needed to understand how best to estimate the future impacts of climate change on their water resources,” said Geeta Persad, Ph.D., post-doctoral scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford and co-author.” Yet the law requires them to incorporate climate change into their plans, which is extremely difficult to do on the scale of a groundwater basin, even with more funding and expertise. This white paper aims to help them navigate the process of incorporating climate change projections appropriately,” she said. … “