As climate change occurs, the prospect of more intense flooding and drought—and a coincident decline in the quality of water in lakes, rivers, and estuaries—demands that states and communities prepare for the inevitable disruptions in adequate supplies of freshwater, according to an RFF analysis on the topic.
The RFF Report, “Emerging Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources: A Perspective on Transformed Watersheds,” by Alan P. Covich of the University of Georgia, notes that “cascades of interconnected and cumulative impacts will alter regional hydrology and ecosystem capacities to supply reliable sources of high-quality freshwater.”
Covich examines six case studies in which regional planners have implemented adaptation policies to deal with a variety of freshwater contingencies. The areas studied include the Colorado River watershed, the Boston Metropolitan Region, New York City, the Flint River in Georgia, Everglades restoration in Florida, and the San Joaquin River in southern California.
“The main effects on freshwater resources are likely to consist of greatly increased uncertainty in maintaining sufficient local and regional supplies of high-quality water to meet demands for municipal, industrial, and agricultural needs,” Covich writes, “while also sustaining natural ecosystem services.”
The report is one in a series issued as part of a major RFF project on domestic adaptation policy.
Excerpts from the report: