Federal-state partnership helps water managers plan for climate change
A new publication aims to provide water resources managers with tools for adapting and navigating the complexities of climate change...
The publication, released by the California Department of Water Resources, U.S. EPA, Resources Legacy Fund, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is titled Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning.
Climate change impacts will pose many challenges to the management of California's water resources. Extreme weather events, sea level rise, shifting precipitation and runoff patterns, temperature changes, and the resulting changes in water quality and availability all have potentially significant implications for water management. Drinking water and wastewater utilities, irrigation districts, local land use planners and flood control agencies are beginning to evaluate how these changes might affect their missions and their future investments.
"Climate change will directly affect water supplies and how they are managed," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "With this guide, EPA is giving water agencies the practical tools they need to effectively manage this precious resource."
"Our scientists, engineers and planners are on the cutting edge of analyzing and preparing for the effects of climate change on our water supply," said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources. "For example, climate change is considered in Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), one of our primary strategies for improving water management at the local, regional, and state level."
IRWM is a collaborative effort to manage all aspects of water resources in a region. IRWM attempts to address the issues and differing perspectives of all the entities involved through mutually beneficial solutions. Since 2002, California voters have approved $1.8 billion for IRWM planning and project implementation.
The handbook uses the IRWM planning framework as a model into which analysis of climate change impacts and potential adaptation measures can be integrated.
In addition, the handbook provides a checklist for identifying and prioritizing the vulnerability of local watersheds. The checklist includes questions about water demand and supply, wildlife and habitat, sea level rise, critical infrastructure, and hydropower.
The handbook also includes:
• Advice on how water resource managers can take climate change into consideration
• A summary of climate change science with links to resources and tools
• Tools for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions for a project
• Tools for measuring regional climate change impacts
• Case studies of communities already incorporating climate change into water resource management
EPA provides financial and technical resources to state and local governments to improve water quality, including upgrading water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and increasing water and energy efficiency. In 2011, EPA gave California more than $192 million in grant funds for clean water.
The handbook is available on line at: http://www.water.ca.gov/climatechange/CCHandbook.cfm