WHERE WATER IS PRECIOUS
Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources
April 25, 2011 (Department of the Interior)
"…[A new report] assesses climate change risks and how these risks could impact water operations, hydropower, flood control, and fish and wildlife in the western United States. The report to Congress, prepared by [the Department of the] Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins."
Reclamation; Managing water in the west responds to requirements under the SECURE Water Act of 2009…[It] shows several increased risks to western United States water resources during the 21st century…[including]…"
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"… 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…
"…[P]rojected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to impact the timing and quantity of stream flows in all western basins, which could impact water available to farms and cities, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife, and other uses such as recreation…Through the WaterSMART Basin Studies Program, Reclamation is developing and evaluating options [with stakeholders across the West] for [sustainably] meeting future water demands in river basins where water supply and demand imbalances exist or are projected."
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"Reclamation is also continuing to implement actions to mitigate and adapt to changing climate. For example, at Hoover Dam, new wide head range turbines are being installed that will allow more efficient power generation over a wider range of lake levels than existing turbines…
"The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the country, providing water to more than 31 million people and to one out of five Western farmers for irrigation of more than 10 million acres of farmland. Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States with 58 power plants generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and producing enough electricity to serve 3.5 million homes."