What is in this article?:
- A new report to Congress, prepared by the DOI, represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins.
- The report shows several increased risks to Western United States water resources during the 21st century.
- The report notes that projected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to impact the timing and quantity of stream flows in all western basins, which could impact water available to farms and cities, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife, and other uses such as recreation.
“The WaterSMART program provides a strong foundation for the Department’s efforts to improve water conservation and help water-resource managers make sound decisions about water use,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, Anne Castle. “As climate change adds to the challenges we face in managing our water supply, meaningful engagement between the River Basin states and the Department of the Interior will continue to be essential.”
To develop the report, Reclamation used original research and a literature synthesis of existing peer-reviewed studies. Projections of future temperature and precipitation are based on multiple climate models and various projections of future greenhouse gas emissions, technological advancements, and global population estimates. Reclamation will develop future reports to Congress under the authorities of the SECURE Water Act that will build upon the level of information currently available and the rapidly developing science to address how changes in supply and demands will impact water management.
The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the country, providing water to more than 31 million people and to one out of five Western farmers for irrigation of more than 10 million acres of farmland. Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States with 58 power plants generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and producing enough electricity to serve 3.5 million homes.
The SECURE Water Act Report, with fact sheets highlighting climate challenges and impacts in the eight western river basins, is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/climate.
More information about Reclamation’s WaterSMART program is available at http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/.