Taken from Sustainablewater.com
Photo Courtesy of NOAA
The third National Climate Assessment (NCA),released in early May of this year by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is a federally-mandated report, which summarizes the current and future impacts of climate change in the U.S.
The report, produced by more than 300 experts along with a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee and reviewed by multiple federal agencies and the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that “our nation, like the rest of the world, is warming.” It then goes on to analyze the impacts of climate change on seven specific areas: human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems.
Particularly worrisome are the findings relating to water. The number of extreme rainfall events is expected to rise in certain areas, such as the Northeast, while the Southwest will get significantly drier. Beyond the events our nation is currently experiencing, the report predicts additional flooding, drought, loss of snowpack and heavy precipitation, just to name a few of the factors likely to affect water supply and quality. According to the report, “Water quality is diminishing in many areas, particularly due to increasing sediment and contaminant concentrations after heavy downpours.”
This is expected to result in “multiple system failures during extreme events,” as well as drastic changes to sectors which are highly dependent on water, such as energy, transportation and agriculture. The interdependence of energy, water, and agriculture is highlighted, as well as the direct link between farmers and urban dwellers.
On a positive note, according to presidential advisors John Holdren and John Podesta, the report provides “actionable science,” in the shape of measures that can be taken to effect positive change. Unsurprisingly, reusing wastewater is one of the report’s suggested options to help alleviate the stress on our water supply. Recycling water on-site provides a redundant water supply, thus mitigating against the risks associated with water quality and availability issues, both today and in the coming decades. In a nation faced with such an extreme weather future, it is essential that every municipality, business, institution and organization play its part to ensure a water future for our nation that is resilient and sustainable.