The U.S. should consider a national drought policy to help achieve sustainable water for drinking and agriculture said the scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
During the last three decades, temperatures have risen 1-2 degrees (Fahrenheit) and many scientists believe the pace of that warming is accelerating. Drought is a reality facing many western states, yet the governmental and societal response is through ad hoc crisis management, pointed out Shaun McGrath, of the Western Governors' Association. "In marked contrast to the myriad federal programs that report, prevent and mitigate the damage of other extreme events – like floods, hurricanes and tornadoes – we accept drought's effects as an unavoidable natural hardship", said McGrath.
Science has the ability to help inform potential policy, yet there is reluctance by many water managers to integrate new climate information into decision processes, said Katharine L. Jacobs, executive director of the Arizona Water Institute. "Many water managers have a fixed view of the environmental record," Jacobs said. "They use historic data for managing surface water reservoirs, designing infrastructure and assessing groundwater availability, instead of incorporating new data on climate change, probabilistic climate forecasts and ensemble stream flow predictions.
It is "long past time" to integrate climate change into water planning and management, said Peter Gleick, a MacArthur Fellow and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security. "Climate change is a reality," Gleick said, "and we must begin planning for those impacts that will be unavoidable. We must do a better job of evaluating the potential for water efficiency and conservation in planning for future needs. And new ways of thinking about supply are needed, including water reuse, conjunctive groundwater and surface water management, and smart desalination."
MEDICA.de; Source: Oregon State University