What does climate change mean for our regional water supplies?
Current climate models project the following changes to our region over time:
- Warming air temperatures throughout the year
- More fall and winter precipitation and less summer precipitation
- More severe and frequent storms
Regional snowpack is highly impacted by rising temperatures. Warmer temperatures will likely lead to decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt. This is a concern for water providers who depend primarily on snowmelt for their water supply. The timing of snowmelt is important for meeting water demands and for fish. For water suppliers who depend on rain, snowpack is less important.
Hotter and drier summers could affect water quality and quantity. This presents an extra challenge because water demand is highest during the summer. Changing climate could also impact water needed for fish and recreation.
The Consortium’s Five-Year Strategic Plan (PDF) identifies climate change as a threat to regional water supplies. Water providers work together to discuss climate change impacts and adaptations. The Consortium facilitates resource-sharing and provides a forum for its members.
The Consortium also works with state and federal agencies to promote the importance of :
- data collection on climate patterns
- watershed characteristics
- decision-support modeling to help water providers understand the potential impacts of climate change
What changes can I make to address climate change?
There are simple ways to protect our region's water as the climate changes:
- Use water wisely indoors and outdoors
- Plant native, waterwise plants in your yard (bonus points for buying them locally!)
- Plant a pollinator garden that supports habitat for bees, birds and butterflies
- Reduce or eliminate use of pesticides and soluble fertilizers in your yard