Water security in the United States is increasingly in jeopardy. Ensuring a reliable supply of clean freshwater to communities, agriculture, and ecosystems, together with effective management of floods and droughts, is the foundation of human and ecological health.
Water: Key Messages
- Water Quantity & Quality
Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country. These changes, which are expected to persist, present an ongoing risk to coupled human and natural systems and related ecosystem services. Variable precipitation and rising temperature are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, and reducing snowpack. Reduced snow-to-rain ratios are leading to significant differences between the timing of water supply and demand. Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk. Surface water quality is declining as water temperature increases and more frequent high-intensity rainfall events mobilize pollutants such as sediments and nutrients.
- Water Infrastructure
Deteriorating water infrastructure compounds the climate risk faced by society. Extreme precipitation events are projected to increase in a warming climate and may lead to more severe floods and greater risk of infrastructure failure in some regions. Infrastructure design, operation, financing principles, and regulatory standards typically do not account for a changing climate. Current risk management does not typically consider the impact of compound extremes (co-occurrence of multiple events) and the risk of cascading infrastructure failure.
- Water Management
Water management strategies designed in view of an evolving future we can only partially anticipate will help prepare the Nation for water- and climate-related risks of the future. Current water management and planning principles typically do not address risk that changes over time, leaving society exposed to more risk than anticipated. While there are examples of promising approaches to manage climate risk, the gap between research and implementation, especially in view of regulatory and institutional constraints, remains a challenge.
The “Water” publication is available as a downloadable PDF at Link to Source…