Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One climate adaptation in process for local water demand

So I'm going to get at least one of the climate change goals I've had for my Water District - recalibrate anticipated future water demand based on anticipated future temperatures.

I know that anticipating our future local water supply (about 35% is local, 55% from the Sierras, and 10% is from conservation) is really difficult.  Most likely it will be worse - longer droughts and larger percent of precip coming in large storms where the water mostly flushes to the ocean instead of percolating to groundwater or caught in reservoirs.  Also less snow - and we do get snow in the Bay Area hills, even if it doesn't last.  But none of this translates into numbers that we can plug into our 25-year projections.

Demand, or at least aspects of it, can be modeled in a climate-changed world.  Thanks to weather, we've got past unseasonably-warm years that will be just typically-warm years of the future, and the increased demands from crops and landscapes due to warmth should be easy to see.

While this analysis didn't go into a water supply master plan that we approved last week, it will go into the next iteration.  I brought up the issue below, and got support from our board chair and (after discussion of other issues by staff) from the conservative Republican director on our board:

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If the video above goes away, click here, click on the October 9 2012 video, and go to Minute 43.

Wish it was this easy all the time.  Adaptation to climate change still seems like the easiest way to bring about acceptance of climate reality, despite North Carolina's legislature.

(Updated to replace "next week" with "last week".)


EliRabett said...

This shows exactly why political participation on the local level is so important. Contrast it with the situation in North Carolina wrt sea level rise.


Anonymous said...

" the increased demands from crops and landscapes"

I reckon there's a lot that can be done for landscape - but at the local government level (here anyway) rather than the water management folks.

Porous paving materials are useful for allowing steady recharge of soil moisture. For trees in streets and parks, we have tube thingies you can drive into the dripline of mature trees or beside younger ones. That way water will get directly into the root zone even when the soil surface is so parched that water runs straight off. It also allows for very frugal, bare-survival, supplementary watering during drought/heatwave conditions.