Understanding utility disincentives to water conservation as a means of adapting to climate change pressures
A management model that systematically provides incentives for consumption more so than conservation may no longer promise the greatest social benefits.. Read the full article at Journal of American Water Works Association.
Kenney, D. S., 2014. Journal of American Water Works Association, Vol. 106, No. 1, 36-46, January.
Combined impacts of current and future dust deposition and regional warming on Colorado River Basin snow dynamics and hydrology
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people in seven western states and two countries and to 5.5 million irrigated acres. The river has long been overallocated. Climate models project runoff losses of 5–20% from the basin by mid-21st century due to human-induced climate change. Recent work has shown that decreased snow albedo from anthropogenic dust loading to the CO mountains shortens the duration of snow cover by several weeks relative to conditions prior to western expansion of the US in the mid-1800s, and advances peak runoff at Lees Ferry, Arizona, by an average of 3 weeks. Read the full article at Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.
Deems, J.S., T. H. Painter, J. J. Barsugli, J. Belnap, and B. Udall, 2013. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 17, 4401-4413.
A skillful early detection and warning system for severe and/or abrupt climate change would benefit both adaptation and preparedness. But what would a severe climate change early warning system look like? Important characteristics of dangerous climate shifts, like rate of onset, intensity, spatial distribution, and predictability, are little known but are the subject of growing research efforts. Some ad hoc forms of climate early warnings are already emerging, and attention now to lessons, positive and negative, from existing hazard warning systems would seem prudent. Read the full article at Weather and Climate Extremes.
Travis, W. R., 2013. Weather and Climate Extremes, October 30.
Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply
Assessing climate change risk to municipal water supplies is often conducted by hydrologic modeling specific to local watersheds and infrastructure to ensure that outputs are compatible with existing planning frameworks and processes. This study leverages the modeling capacity of an operational National Weather Service River Forecast Center to explore the potential impacts of future climate-driven hydrologic changes on factors important to planning at the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLC). Read the full article at Earth Interactions.
Bardsley, T., A. Wood, M. Hobbins, T. Kirkham, L. Briefer, J. Niermeyer, and S. Burian, 2013. Earth Interactions, Volume 17, Issue 23, 1-26, October.
Imtiaz Rangwala interviewed on CMIP3 vs. CMIP5
Many western water managers use the CMIP3 downscaled climate projections to plan for the effects of climate change on their water systems. Now that the CMIP5 projections have been released, water managers are wondering what this means for their investment in CMIP3. WWA's Imtiaz Rangwala recently presented on CMIP3 vs. CMIP5 in a webinar for Carpe Diem West, and a follow-up interview with Imtiaz on that topic was just posted in Confluence, Carpe Diem West's e-newsletter.
Salt Lake City Utilities' Laura Briefer talks about working with WWA on climate study
Laura Briefer, a Water Resources Manager with the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, is interviewed about working with WWA on a recent climate study. She co-authored a study with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Western Water Assessment that investigated how rising temperatures could challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply. The study “Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply” was published in the journal Earth Interactions.
New WWA study analyzes disincentives to water conservation
A new study by WWA's Doug Kenney found that, especially in western contexts, water utilities face multiple financial and other constraints that tend to reduce the appeal of conservation in long-term planning efforts. Kenney's paper, published in the Journal of the American Water Works Association, found two major types of disincentives—those related to supply reliability and those related to utility revenues. The paper recommends considering other financial models, such as the "decoupling" model used by some electricity utilities.
New study: Dust, warming portend dry future for the Colorado River
Reducing the amount of desert dust swept onto snowy Rocky Mountain peaks could help Western water managers deal with the challenges of a warmer future, according to a new study. With support from WWA and NASA’s Interdisciplinary Science program, CIRES’ Jeffrey Deems and his colleagues examined the combined effects of regional warming and dust on the Colorado River, which is fed primarily by snowmelt. During recent years, desert dust has been settling thick and dark on the snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountain headwaters of the Colorado River, and snowpack is melting out as many as six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s, according to the new study. See the CIRES Press Release.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mentions new WWA study on Twitter
The official twitter account of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mentioned WWA lead author Tim Bardsley's new study on climate adaptation planning for public water supply in Salt Lake City. See the CIRES Press Release.
New WWA study: Rising temperatures challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply
For every 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region, water flow to the city will drop 1.8-6.5%. That's the conclusion from a new WWA-led climate analysis that offers a window into what other Western cities will face in a warming world. With help from this climate analysis, Salt Lake managers are preparing for a warmer future. See press coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune, Boulder Daily Camera, and Utah Public Radio.