Interior's Report to Congress Highlights Impacts of Climate Change on Western Water

Author: Travis Leipzig

"Water is the lifeblood of our communities, rural and urban economies, and our environment; and small changes in water supplies or the timing of precipitation can have a big impact on all of us." - Ken Salazar. On Monday, April 28, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released a report to congress that highlights the impacts of climate change on western water resources.

The Department of the Interior released a Press Release on Monday describing the report to congress:

The report, which responds to requirements under the SECURE Water Act of 2009, shows several increased risks to western United States water resources during the 21st century. Specific projections include:

  • a temperature increase of 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • a precipitation increase over the northwestern and north-central portions of the western United States and a decrease over the southwestern and south-central areas;
  • a decrease for almost all of the April 1st snowpack, a standard benchmark measurement used to project river basin runoff; and
  • an 8 to 20 percent decrease in average annual stream flow in several river basins, including the Colorado, the Rio Grande, and the San Joaquin.

It is a fantastic sign to see more and more reports such as these coming out of governmental entities, and not just from non-governmental environmental advocacy groups. It means that the message of the dire importance of the protecting our national freshwater reserves is beginning to be heard by the folks who can actually make the changes that are so incredibly necessary.

Read the entire report here.

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