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EPA Requests Comments on National Water Program Strategy to Respond to Climate Change

29 March 2008

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water has made available for comment a review draft of the National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change. The draft document represents the National Water Program’s initial effort to identify potential impacts of climate change for clean water and drinking water programs and define actions to respond to these impacts, which may include: increases in certain water pollution problems; changes to availability of drinking water supplies; and significant collective impacts on coastal areas.

The draft strategy proposes 46 specific actions that the National Water Program will take to respond to climate change in areas including adaptation, research, mitigation, and education. Only those actions that can be initiated in FY 2008 or 2009 with an assumption of level funding are included in the draft Strategy.

The National Water Program is a cooperative effort by Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments to implement core laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, intended to protect and to improve the quality of the Nation’s waters.

Some of the primary effects of climate change for water resources include:

  • Air and water temperature increases. Warmer air temperatures are expected to have several impacts on water resources including diminishing snow pack and increasing evaporation, which affects the seasonal availability of water. A key impact of warmer air temperatures is warmer water temperatures. Some impacts of warmer water temperatures are shifts in aquatic species distribution and population; reduced oxygen levels; increased concentrations of come pollutants; and promotion of algal blooms and increased bacteria and fungi content.

  • Changes in Levels and Distribution of Rainfall and Snowfall. Changing precipitation patterns are expected to have several impacts on water resources including: more pollution and sedimentation due to runoff; increased urban flood risks creating additional design challenges and costs for stormwater management; affects on water quality; and increases or decreases of net water supplies.

  • Storm Intensity Increases. The primary impacts of increasing storm intensity on water resources is coastal and inland flooding, complicated in the case of coastal storms by storm surges. Many of these impacts will vary regionally and can be influenced by other factors such as the level of development in the watershed.

  • Sea Level Rise. The primary impact of sea level rise on water resources is the gradual inundation of natural systems and human infrastructure in coastal and estuarine areas. Inundation impacts include: wetland displacement; accelerated coastal erosion; changes in water quality; and sea level rise increases the vulnerability of coastal areas to flooding during storms.

    Impacts of sea level rise other than inundation include: rising sea level increases the salinity of both surface water and ground water through salt water intrusion; if sea level rise pushes salty water upstream, then the existing water intakes might draw on salty water during dry periods; and salinity increases in estuaries can harm aquatic plants and animals that do not tolerate high salinity.

  • Changes in Coastal/Ocean Characteristics. Changes in ocean characteristics are expected to have several impacts on coastal and ocean resources including: the inhibition or slowing of the biological production of corals, as well as calcifying photoplankton and zooplankton within the water column; ocean acidification and its affects on corals, pelagic ecosystems and the marine food web; salinity increases in estuaries.

The document notes that likely responses to climate change include development of alternative methods of energy production that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and sequester carbon generated by energy production. These too can have impacts on water resources. Suggested impacts on water resources from changes in energy generation or carbon sequestration include:

  • Thermoelectric power plants that generate electricity using fossil or nuclear power require significant amounts of water, and will be vulnerable to fluctuations in water supply.

  • Deep ocean sequestration might harm marine organisms, and requires studies on the response of biological system in the deep sea to added CO2.

  • Sequestration of carbon in “biological” forms, (i.e., preserving forests, no-till agriculture and related land management practices) may have water quality benefits by encouraging practices that reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and the pollution levels in the runoff. While land restoration will have positive environmental impacts, conversion of floodplains and wetlands to agriculture could hamper ecological function (reduced water recharge, bioremediation, nutrient cycling, etc.

  • Demand for biofuels is also likely to have impacts on water including increasing land in agricultural production, resulting in increased risk of runoff of sediments, nutrients, and pesticides. Production of biofuels also uses significant amounts of water.

The report outlines five general goals for the National Water Program response to climate change impacts on water resources:

  • Goal 1: Water Program Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases: use water programs to contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation;

  • Goal 2: Water Program Adaptation to Climate Change: adapt implementation of core water programs to maintain and improve program effectiveness in the context of a changing climate;

  • Goal 3: Climate Change Research Related to Water: strengthen the link between EPA water programs and climate change research;

  • Goal 4: Water Program Education on Climate Change: educate water program professionals and stakeholders on climate change impacts on water resources and programs; and

  • Goal 5: Water Program Management of Climate Change: establish the management capability within the National Water Program to engage climate change challenges on a sustained basis.

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March 29, 2008 in Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation, Policy | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

What warming?
What droughts?
What increase in severe storms?
What sea level rise?

Its too bad that a sensible program for a commendable objective like Clean water, needs to be disguised and wrapped in AGW mumbo-jumbo, in order to achieve any attention.

What warming?
greyfalcon.net/globaltemps.png

What droughts?
www.drought.unl.edu/DM/monitor.html
www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/nov/08/australia.drought
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5194582.stm

What increase in severe storms?
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070830105911.htm

==What sea level rise?==
www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/uob-ail011108.php
news.mongabay.com/2008/0313-sea_levels.html
gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/11/18/123840/77

==needs to be disguised and wrapped in AGW mumbo-jumbo==
You got every National Academy of Sciences in the developed world saying we need to take action to deal with manmade climate change.
greyfalcon.net/whatwouldittake

Actually more specifically, there isn't a single legit scientific organization in the world that says manmade climate change isn't happening.

Which even includes the American Association of Petroluem Geologists.
http://dpa.aapg.org/gac/statements/climatechange.cfm

I'd be more than surprised if you could find even one.

What warming?

We used to open our windows to get cooling summer breezes in the afternoon, last year the AC was on 24/7 for two months.

What droughts?

Average rain fall in this areaa used to be 14" a year, last year was 2.5 inches in our backyard and this year 7".

What increase in severe storms?

Those storms we haven't experienced, they were north of us, or east of us. We did get hurricane force winds of over 90℉, which lead to record fire damage.

What sea level rise?

Most of our beaches have cliffs behind them, so only folks who are at beach level have seen water come over the walls and into their homes. If sea level rises in the Oxnard Plain, you can say good bye to strawberries, lettuce, and lots of other veggies, because salt water intrusion into the aguifer will be toxic to current crops as prices for these foods will increase, just like the price of wheat has increased 300%. because much of the world has too much heat and lacks water.

Its too bad that a sensible program for a commendable objective like Clean water, needs to be disguised and wrapped in AGW mumbo-jumbo, in order to achieve any attention.

What are you trying to say? Do you have low flush toilets? Do you have exterior water on timer with drip systems? Do you use low water washer/dryer? Does your city/county water system use recycled or reclaimed water? If you don't do all of those, because you're lucky. For some regions of this country, the water crisis is here and we would appreciate your support and understanding.

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml

it is a hoax, but at least it keeps scientists employed, welfare.. I only wish that there is not another collapse in the price of oil just before e cars become common.

Conserving water in places that are already prone to drought, e.g. Southern California, is a sensible precaution on the basis of expected population growth alone.

On the other end of the scale, improving flood control measures in places that are already prone to flooding (e.g. California Central Valley near Stockton) is useful on purely economic grounds. Likewise, producing biogas from dung on an industrial scale not only reduces methane emissions but also demand for fossil natural gas and/or electricity produced from it. Separating either the dung or the fermentation residue into dry and liquid components lets farmers better manage nitrogen runoff, which reduces demand for artificial fertilizer and the impact on downstream fisheries.

KQED Quest: From Waste to Watts

Any long-term benefits from water management for the climate are basically gravy, but if that's what it takes to market the policy shift right now, then so be it.

Unless we want to start abandoning much of the Southwest US we will build many large desalination plants in the next fifteen years. The only economical power source for these other than coal is nuclear.

@Esabre,

a verbatim rip of a two year piece from an avowed climate skeptic scientist?

Compared to AGW with the basic backing of every legitimate national and international scientific organization?

Yah, right.

Here's something for the denialists.

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/denialmachine/video.html

@Shumacher,

There is a reason that the global warming alarmist are trying to shift to using the label "climate change" They know that with every passing year, it gets harder and harder to sell global warming, when the data doesn't support it. "Climate Change" lets you raise the alarm anytime the temperature on a given day is 1000th of a degree different than it was on the same day a year before. Anyway, here's a Jan 2008 article for you, now excuse me while I go watch video of the record artic sea ice, and send a check to help those hurt by the record cold temperatures around the world this year.

"January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet, with a significant cooling, especially since January 2007 started out well above normal.

January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators. I have reported in the past two weeks that HadCRUT, RSS, UAH, and GISS global temperature sets all show sharp drops in the last year.

Also see the recent post on what the last 10 years looks like with the same four metrics - 3 of four show a flat trendline..."

If you had looked at the stasis in temperatures since 1999 you would have no problerm with the question: What Warming?s

If you had inspected the North American desert Southwest which is the 8th year of a "drought" and looked at the reservoir levels you would ask: What drought?

All the silver necklace reservoirs Roosevelt, Apache, Horseshoe, Canyon, Bartlett, Suguaro, Pleasant, surrounding Phoenix are full and can accept no more water. Lake Powell and Lake Mead on the Colorado have been down but lakes Mohave, Havasu and others are full. Lake Powell was at 33% capacity two years ago and the enviro-nutcases were saying it would NEVER refill. This year's projected snowmelt will fill Powell to between 75-80% full, some of which will find its way to Mead as well. Both are Higher than in 5 years. All the upper Colorado and Utah and Wyoming reservoirs are full already except for one tiny one on the Montana border. Meanwhile the Southwest aquifer refill is proceeding just as it has throughout the drought, and is within one foot of its all time highest measurements. Southern California reservoirs have received even more rain than the Southwest.

Only an enviro know-nothing thinks water can be "conserved" or "lost". Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

Every drop from the reservoirs is re-used several times in Phoenix until there is next to nothing entering the dry Salt River south of the City. It is used for potable water, irrigation for food products, re-cleansed and grey water feeds irrgation for nonedible plants like cotton and landscaping. The remains is recleansed and sold to industry and the power company to cool the electric plants or pumped underground to replenish the aquifer.

So don't preach to me of "unflush" toilets that "save water" by having to be reflushed several times. There is no savings there.

Just to keep Washington bureaucrats happy, a small quantity of pure drinking water, better than its source from the reservoirs, is dumped into the dry riverbed and purposely not "conserved". Water has to be dumped into the dry riverbed just so that Phoenix can meet a bureaucrat's definition of downstream effluent being as clean as upstream intakes.

Jackoff bureaucrats in DC, never could countenance the possibility that a city could utilize, and reutilize, and reutilize, every drop of all the water that it chooses to take.

BTW, The Great southwest drought is broken, even if it is not official yet.

The only drought in the North America at the moment, is in the Southeast around Atlanta. The reason it is in that state, is that there were no hurricanes that hit landfall on the eastern seaboard for the third year in a row, to replenish its reservoirs as is "normal". But even there the drought has eased with winter rain. So... What Severe Storms?

BTW if you actually studied Global Warming Theory, as I have; you would see that it is supposed to be accompanied by a increase in precipitation in the temperate zones. As "Warming" increases, evaporation (and precipitation). increase as well. Again, Science says: What goes up, must come down...

In other words you don't know much Science, and also what you are talking about, regarding global warming.

I suggest you discover global warming theory from a Science book and not from a sermon by a flunkout Preacherman who never studied Science either. His Fire an Brimstone sermons are certainly that. But seem more full of heat than light.

It is not so much what happens year to year as it is the longer term trends. Population in Southern California has continued to increase for decades. Much of L.A. would not have enough water, if not for developers buying land and taking water from the Owens Valley to the north.

The Colorado River water shared between California and Arizona has be mostly taken by California for agriculture. That has changed in recent years, allowing Arizona to take more of their share. If California can not produce agricultural products due to lack of water, much of the nation will feel the effects.

I think it is good to have an overall analysis of water resources and planning. You do a worst case scenario, where population and the use of water increase and the potential for the water supply decreases.

Water is a precious resource and like oil, there is an increasing demand and a decreasing supply. Planning makes sense so that there are no panic situations. So far so good, but if you do not plan it can be a rather rude awakening.

Actually there is a fixed amount of water on planet Earth which neither increases or decreases but simply changes states.

If it is a state that you can not use, it is not much use to humans. Fresh water is a small fraction of the water we have. You could say that the same amount of rain falls somewhere, but if it is in the Amazon and runs into the sea, that does not help the people in sub Saharan Africa.

As a resident of drought stricken NC - yeah I guess we are near Atlanta. It is true that our drought is partly or mostly a result of no hurricanes. Our last drought was "broken" by a single storm that refilled reservoirs 5 years ago. Our drought is 35 inch a year instead of our usual 45 inches. Good planning makes a huge difference. My suburb has a 400 day supply of water while Raleigh and Durham each are sitting on 30-60 day supplies.

Finally Raleigh has started to tier their water rates like we already had. But much of the problem is population growth and total disregard of water use - similar to the national problem of petroleum use. People here still flush with 4.5 gallons (on older homes) but the primary problem is all the irrigation running during the rain storms....

Overall - this is small potatoes. This is a mild decrease in rainfall (but it meets the official standard for "exceptional" drought.) Proper planning and commonsense conservation would make the difference. The good news is that rain barrels are flying off the shelves...

@ESabre

There is a reason that the global warming alarmist are trying to shift to using the label "climate change" They know that with every passing year, it gets harder and harder to sell global warming, when the data doesn't support it.

The original change of usage isn't from the advocates of AGW but from the opposition.

" "Climate change is less frightening than 'global warming,'" Luntz wrote in "Straight Talk." "Global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge." " Frank Luntz is a pollster and packager of selling ideas for the GOP from the 90's on up and wrote this. "Straight Talk" became a bible for the GOP to sell the idea that AGW was misleading.

Frank Luntz by the way has totally changed his position on this issue.

Saying that the trend has flatlined is a erroneous assumption. 1998 was an exceptionally hot year. By taking that as a metre stick for the following years of course it looks like it is flatlining but that isn't the proper way to interpret that. GW is change in the global average mean temperature. You cannot look at one year and say because so and so happened, it disproves AGW. It is about long term trends. The factors that contribute to this upward trend in temperature are still in place and will more than likely affect future weather.

In Addendum,

As for this being a cold winter...

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080313_coolest.html

February was 61st warmest in the contiguous U.S. and 15th warmest globally on record. For the U.S., the temperature was near average, 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average of 34.7°F (1.5°C), which was 2.0°F (1.1°C) warmer than February 2007.

Globally, the February average temperature was 0.68°F/0.38°C above the 20th century mean of 53.8°F/12.1°C.

It may have been the coolest since 2001 but then so what? That by the way was another la nina event.

DP,

Our annual rainfall is about 12 inches per year in Southern California. During the 80s we had 7 years of below average rainfall and people were fined for over watering their lawns.

At that time California was getting a lot of water for agriculture in the Imperial Valley from the Colorado River. More than 80% of the water used here in Southern California is used for agriculture. I sometimes wonder what would happen if the millions of acres in production that depend on rain can not get it. Irrigation is not an option for everyone.

The climate trend is to higher temperatures. This will lead to more drought conditions. Looking at this season doesn't negate the overall long term trend of what's happening. This season's weather was an anomaly. It was not and cannot be counted to occur on a regular basis to alleviate conditions or what will be future "normal" conditions.

Your examples are of weather but not of climate. I also see that you have ignored the big elephant and that is that no national or international recognized organization doesn't recognize AGW.

From NOAA...

Record Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in January was followed by above average snow cover for the month of February. Unusually high temperatures across much of the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere in February began reducing the snow cover, and by the end of February, snow cover extent was below average in many parts of the hemisphere.

From this, one can infer that although the reservoirs will get higher than average runoffs from the spring, there will be less additions to the reservoirs later in the year. This is especially true of the meditterean style climate of the SW region.


PS.
American low flush toilets are supposedly of worse design than Australian dual flush models, which are designed with a totally different basis of operation than water pulling the waste.

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