Report Outlines Warming Effect on Water Delivery

Warming of the Earth’s atmosphere will put mounting pressure on America’s drinking water sources, leading to diminishing supplies in some regions and flooding in others, according to an analysis released recently by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), a nonprofit organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water systems in the United States.

AMWA’s report, "Implications of Climate Change for Urban Water Utilities," forecasts the likely impacts of climate change on water supplies, such as an accelerated hydrologic cycle of evaporation and precipitation, water contamination, rising sea levels and pressure on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The report is available at .

“This report shows that climate change may pose great challenges to delivering limited amounts of clean and safe water to a rapidly growing population,” said Diane VanDe Hei, AMWA executive director.

The report suggests that water systems perform vulnerability assessments to identify short-term adaptation needs, develop cooperative planning and modeling efforts among utilities to devise strategies addressing likely regional water resource issues, and try to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.

“Scientific research is needed to better understand the impacts of climate change on existing fresh water resources and to help develop and assess the affordability of alternative water sources – such as reuse, recycling, conservation and desalination,” VanDe Hei said. “In addition, an increased federal investment in water infrastructure is needed to help offset the costs of new supply development and capital projects to ensure that all Americans continue to have access to safe and affordable drinking water.”

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