Union of Concerned Scientists Tackles California Water’s Climate Change Challenges

In the last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists have published two exceptional blog posts about how to better manage California’s water in the wake of climate change.
Western states senior climate analyst for UCS, Adrienne Alvord reveals the need to improve climate change modeling practices and data literacy among water management officials in her blog post, “Water in an Uncertain Future: Planning the New Normal.” Alvord explains,

“Researchers and scientists at UCS and the Stanford Law and Policy Lab released a report today that says much more needs to be done to ensure adequate groundwater management, and, by extension, overall water management in an era of rapid climate change.
“The report found nearly half of the 24 groundwater plans analyzed did not include the kind of quantitative analysis of climate change required by the state.
“The researchers also found that state and federal water delivery projections that local agencies rely upon to make water management decisions are inconsistent and therefore confusing to use. They found that too often models were used inappropriately or with unreliable assumptions. For example, many agencies were not using a range of climate data but relying on ‘moderate’ scenarios to plan—a bit like planning for a ‘moderate’ earthquake rather than the maximum force that can result in damage to life and property.”

Western states senior climate analyst at UCS, Jamesine Rogers Gibson pens “Climate change is here. Can California’s infrastructure handle it?,” a thoughtful piece about investing in “climate-smart” infrastructure, based on findings in her recent whitepaper “Built to Last.” Rogers Gibson writes,

“Climate-smart also can reduce heat-trapping emissions, spend limited public funds wisely, and prioritize equitable infrastructure decisions. This last point is important because some communities in California are more vulnerable to both climate impacts and infrastructure failure due in part to decades of underinvestment and disinvestment, especially in many low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities.
“When done right, the results can be innovative infrastructure solutions, like the Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid, that bring social, economic, health, and environmental benefits to Californians AND protect us from the weather extremes we are inevitably facing. More examples of climate-smart principles in action are described in the white paper, and some are shown in the accompanying StoryMap.
“This is especially important in light of the billions of taxpayer dollars the state is planning on spending on new long-lived infrastructure projects. Many more billions will be spent on maintenance and retrofitting of existing infrastructure over the next few years. These projects must be able to function reliably and safely despite worsening climate impacts over the coming decades. Otherwise, we risk building costly systems that will fail well before their intended lifespans.”


In case you missed it: November 21, 2017
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470, nora@kovaleskipr.com

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