skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Fracking
Safe Chemicals
Defending the Clean Air Act

Kelly Coplin’s Blog

Bay-Delta Climate Change Study Points to Virtual River as California's Only Sustainable Solution

Kelly Coplin

Posted November 7, 2011 in Living Sustainably

Tags:
, , , , , , , ,
Share | | |

Last week USGS scientists and academic colleagues released an integrated assessment, the first of its kind, of how the Bay-Delta ecosystem will respond to climate change.

The authors echoed a concern that the environmental community has been repeating for years: that California water managers must incorporate climate change into water management plans.  That means planning for extraordinary variability in precipitation with less water available for capture and storage, more extreme flooding events, diminished snowpack, sea level rise, increased Bay-Delta salinity, increased water temperature, and decreased turbidity.

The authors point to investments in the virtual river as the only sustainable solution to the Bay-Delta’s increasingly unreliable water supplies:

Future strategies of water management will require adaptations such as aggressively increasing water-use efficiency, reducing surface water deliveries, capturing more runoff in surface storage or groundwater recharge, and implementing programs of integrated regional water management. 

Unfortunately, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is currently not addressing these and related alternative water supply investments.  As my colleague Barry Nelson recently wrote, solving the Delta’s stability and environmental problems necessitates a 21st century approach that is not narrowly focused on increasing the amount of water that we drain out of our freshwater systems.  Instead, we must focus on using and re-using our limited water resources more wisely.  This is particularly important in light of climate change, which makes the old approach of diverting ever more water from our rivers and streams even more unsustainable, and therefore less reliable.  Reducing California’s reliance on the Delta is the key to ensuring stable water supplies for water users.

Given a future of climate change, incorporating investments in water-use efficiency, green infrastructure, water recycling, better groundwater management, and improvements to Delta levee stability into Bay-Delta planning processes is the only responsible thing to do.

Share | | |

Join the Conversation

Comment on this post:

All pertinent comments offered in the spirit of civil conversation are welcome! Off-topic comments, commercial spam, obscenity and other rude behavior are not, and will be removed. We are also required to remove any express or implied statement endorsing or opposing any political party or candidate for political office. Valid email addresses are required. (NRDC respects your privacy; we will not use, lend, or sell your email address for any reason.)

About

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.

Feeds: Kelly Coplin’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In