Sunday, January 19, 2014

Changing Climate impending impacts on water availability

Here at NO-VillageAtWolfCreek the post with the most visits, by far, is from September 26th 2012 titled:  The Impact of Climate Change on Ski Resort Operations and Development: Opportunities and Threat.  Obviously, many people understand climate change is an increasingly important issue that needs to be taken into account.

Since I'm an advocate, I know that anything I say about global warming and its impact on the near future will be brushed off by boosters of this speculative venture.  That's why I like pointing to evidence based studies by genuinely knowledgeable people.

Here I want to share a recent assessment that focuses on Colorado's water resources. It's a sobering look at the near future and the challenges that we will be facing.  My point being, the time to squander precious natural resources on a developer's crap shot has passed.

The new dream is that someone in a position of authority will stick their neck out and declare the intact biologically productive wetland, and fens of the entire Alberta Park area an irreplaceable resource worth the protecting.

In any event, I encourage you to take the time to view the entire report, it's only 18 pages long and well written, and there's a lot to learn about.

The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization

RMCO's Recent Statements and News Releases

Climate Change Impacts on Colorado Water

RMCO news release, Sept. 4, 2013

Stephen Saunders, RMCO's president, commented in a news release on a report released by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs, "Colorado Water Supply and Climate Change: A Business Perspective." RMCO provided the information for the report synthesizing climate change impacts on Colorado's water resources--both the impacts that are already occurring and the greater impacts projected as human emissions of heat-trapping pollution continue to change the climate.

“This report pulls together for the first time in one easily readable document all the ways in which climate change is already affecting Colorado’s water supplies and likely will disrupt them more in the future," Saunders said. It lays out the facts, from lower supplies of water to higher demands for water, and how that combination could trigger statewide water restrictions under interstate compacts,” said Stephen Saunders, the president of RMCO. “This is what every Coloradan should know about possible future water shortages from the combined effects of climate disruption and interstate compacts.”

About E2
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity. E2 is the independent business voice for the environment. We provide a nonpartisan resource for understanding the business perspective on environmental issues. Working with our public and private partners, E2 shapes state and national policy that’s good for the economy and good for the environment.

Colorado Water Supply and Climate Change: 
A Business Perspective

Table of Contents
I. Introduction ................ 4 
II. Business principles Guide our recommendations ..... 6 
III. Swift action Is Crucial and timely ..... 6
IV. Concrete Steps for addressing Colorado’s Water/Climate risks ... 7
  1. Leadership and Collaboration...7 
  2. M&I Water Conservation Goal ... 7 
  3. M&I Conservation pricing ... 8 
  4. Planning for Climate Change Impacts ... 9 
  5. Water reuse...........10 
  6. Agricultural Water Use ... 10 
  7. planning for Compact Curtailments ... 11 
  8. Vulnerability assessment and preparedness plan ... 11 
  9. Emission reductions... 11 
V. Water Supply and Demand risks ... 11 
Underlying Water Challenges... 11 
The effects of Climate Change on Colorado’s Water... 12 
Supply and Demand Imbalances... 15 
Interstate Compact Curtailments ... 15 
Water and Climate risks of particular Business Sectors ... 16
Endnotes .. 18
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

page 11
Underlying Water Challenges

"Even before factoring in climate change (see pages 12 to 15), Colorado faces major water supply risks, given its semi-arid climate and a population growing faster than the national average.
The SWSI 2010 report projected that M&I demands could increase from 50 percent to 81 percent by 2050 (see table 1). "  
[SWSI 2010 - ]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

page 12
The Effects of Climate Change on Colorado’s Water

1. Effects on water supplies
"The American West has become hotter in recent years, as has most of the world. The West’s most important temperature increases have been in mountainous areas in late winter and spring, when snowpacks and therefore the region’s natural water regime are most susceptible to disruption. ...

"... Climate change is already making some dry areas drier overall. In the interior Southwest (including Colorado), river flows generally declined from 1901 through 2008; this is the only region in the country in which river flows declined. ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

page 13

"In Colorado, as across most of the West, the height of the early-century drought was in 2002. ... Under Colorado water law, with stream flows so low, relatively newer water rights were curtailed to leave enough water in streams to satisfy older downstream water rights. Ultimately, even very senior water rights were curtailed; the City of Pueblo was not allowed to use a water right dating back to 1874. ..."

"the combined volume of the river’s two giant reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, will fall this year to the lowest level since 1968."

"Along with continuing declines in spring snowpacks, climate change is expected to bring continuation and acceleration of more winter precipitation falling as rain, earlier runoff of winter precipitation, and shifts of peak flows to earlier in the year. Driven by nearly certain hotter basin temperatures, these risks would be magnified by increased evaporation from soils, stream, and reservoirs, along with water release (transpiration) from plants. Also, future water supplies could be particularly disrupted by more frequent and severe droughts.

"Even more troubling is that climate change may reduce overall flows of rivers in the arid and semi-arid portions of the West, continuing the recent trend documented earlier in this report. According to an analysis by the BOR of the eight major river systems where it operates, both the Colorado River and the Rio Grande are likely to have their flows reduced by climate change, while the other six rivers are likely to see little change or increased flows."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

page 15

Supply-demand imbalances

"By decreasing water supplies—which is likely—and increasing demand for water—which is virtually certain— climate change significantly heightens Colorado’s underlying risks of water shortages. ..."

Interstate Compact Curtailments

"At the end of any sentence on how climate change magnifies Colorado’s water supply risks, interstate compacts serve as the exclamation point. Climate change makes it more likely that Colorado water users face compact-driven curtailments of water rights to comply with the state’s legal obligations to let defined amounts of water flow out of this state and into downstream states. ..."

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