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Floods and Droughts and Sea Level Rise -- California's New Climate and Water Video

Barry Nelson

Posted November 11, 2011 in Living Sustainably

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OK, it might not get more YouTube hits than that dancing dog I saw recently, but this new Department of Water Resources video, ”A Climate of Change,” does an excellent job - in 12 short minutes - of summarizing the likely impacts of climate change on California’s water resources.  It doesn’t shy away from the daunting list of the ways in which the Golden State’s precious resources could be affected, including  reduced snowpack, more wildfires, more droughts AND more intense storm events, increased erosion, decreased water supply, increased flood risk, sea level rise, and salt water intrusion into coastal aquifers.  (Here’s NRDC’s analysis of the water-related impacts of a warming world.)

California has done more than most states to acknowledge and begin planning to adapt to this less water-friendly future.  This archive  of DWR’s publications on the subject shows the results of this effort.   Other states, particularly in the arid West, would do well to learn from California’s investment over the past decade.  Unfortunately, not all states are moving in this direction.  For example, take a look at how Texas is tackling climate change – or not.  

The DWR film appropriately highlights the threat that climate change and sea level rise pose to the San Francisco Bay-Delta system – a threat that was recently explored in a USGS Bay-Delta climate change study.  This risk has enormous potential implications for water supplies, for the environment, for a half-million acres of farm land and for a half-million Delta residents.  This is a challenge that California must address head on.  Last week I posted this piece about a new Southern California Water Committee presentation on the Delta.  DWR’s video leaves me with the same question.  Why is BDCP, one of the state’s primary Bay-Delta planning efforts, so focused on last century’s water challenge - pumping more water from the Delta - rather than the challenge so convincingly presented in this new video?  

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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