(Image credit: flickr user heidi.nutters, via SPUR)
A recent report by SPUR entitled “Climate change hits home” addresses how we should plan to adapt to climate change in the Bay Area. The report includes a number of strategies to help local communities to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Some of the key impacts discussed in the report include:
- Higher average temperatures,
- Increased number of heat waves,
- Water uncertainty: droughts, extreme storms, flooding,
- An increased risk of wildfire, and
- Sea level rise.
The SPUR task force responsible for the report then considered how these impacts would affect various areas of planning in the Bay Area and proposed strategies to adapt to them.
The goal of the report is to get local agencies to begin to talk to one another to coordinate responses to climate change. Many of the adaptation strategies proposed in the report will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a real “win-win” overall.
A copy of the report is available for download from the SPUR website.
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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Pacific Institute has released a report on how to find the next million acre feet of water in California. As with energy in California, which now has the “loading order”, the conclusion is that conservation and efficiency efforts can achieve water savings for less cost than building new or expanding existing supplies.
An overview of some of the water-efficient practices discussed in the report:
Water savings are available through a wide variety of water-efficient practices in the urban and agricultural sectors. In the urban sector this includes replacing old, inefficient devices with high-efficiency models, as well as lawn conversion, residential metering, and rate structures that better communicate the value of water. In the agricultural sector, best water management practices include weather-based irrigation scheduling, regulated deficit irrigation, and switching from gravity or flood irrigation to sprinkler or drip irrigation systems. Here, we focus on well documented, cost-effective approaches that are already being used in California. We emphasize efficiency improvements rather than behavioral changes because the latter are less easily quantified. Nonetheless, experience in Australia, Colorado, and California in recent years shows that changing water use behavior can also provide very fast and inexpensive savings in emergencies, with long-term benefits.
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A full copy of the report can be found here.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report in 2004 titled “Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply.” Especially in the western part of the United States, there is a tight connection between water and energy resources, as energy is needed to reliably treat and distribute water.
Because energy and water decision-making is often siloed, water planners are not generally taking into consideration the energy-related consequences of their planning.
The full report is available here as a pdf.
The authors carefully quantified the link between water and energy for three specific case studies – San Diego County’s future supply, the Westlands Water District, and the Columbia River basin (in the the Pacific Northwest). According to the report, the Westlands Water District is one of the largest agricultural users of water in the western United States.
The overarching message of the report is that decision makers should integrate energy issues in to water planning and decision-making. It also suggests a methodology for incorporating energy impacts into water planning.
The report contains numerous interesting tidbits:
- “The more than 60,000 water systems and 15,000 wastewater systems in the United States are among the country’s largest energy consumers, using 75 billion kWh/year nationally – 3 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption.”
- “According to the Association of California Water Agencies, water agencies account for 7 percent of California’s energy consumption and 5 percent of the summer peak demand.”
- “Ninety percent of all electricity used on farms is devoted to pumping groundwater for irrigation.”
- “End use of water – especially energy intensive uses like washing clothes and taking showers – consumes more energy than any other part of the urban water conveyance and treatment cycle.”
- “When water is diverted for irrigation before it reaches a dam, an enormous amount of energy – the foregone energy production – is lost.”
The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has released a study, conducted on their behalf by Tetra Tech, which examined the effects of climate change on probable future water supply and demand in the United States. One of the main findings of the study is that one-third of the U.S. counties (> 1,100 counties) will likely face water shortages by 2050.
The full report is available as a PDF here.
The Water Supply Sustainbility Index developed by Tetra Tech for the report can be viewed interactively in Google Earth – a link to the data can be found on the NRDC’s website here. You can also turn on and off markers for which counties are top producers of different crops to get a sense of the potential impact of the water shortages. It looks like this (the green dots indicate that the county is one of the top 100 counties for producing vegetables):
The NRDC also released a one-page overview of water shortage risk and crop value in at-risk counties by state (as a PDF here). According to the overview of California’s risk due to climate change:
Percent of CA counties at risk of water shortages: 83%
Total number of CA counties at risk: 48
Total number of CA counties at extreme risk: 19
Total number of CA counties at high risk: 17
Total number of CA counties at moderate risk: 12
The value of all the crops being producing in at-risk CA counties (in $1,000s): $21,585,354
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