White House releases climate change impacts report, prognosis grim for Western water

Graphic: NOAA


A MULTI-AGENCY report released by the White House today includes predictions of worsening Western drought, falling water quality and insect infestations. Lest anyone imagine that this warming and its cascade of knock-on effects is somehow part of a natural cycle, the report repeatedly names the trigger for the changes as “human-caused.” 

Government certification of this mother of a problem was not released without some semblance of a solution. Would that this didn’t boil down to a cue to plan on disaster. As part of that, for Western water managers, the message is: All bets are off. We must rethink our system.

Bullet points from the water resources chapter of the report include:   
  • Regional differences in climate will become more prounounced. Rain will increase in the Northeast and Midwest and decline in much of the West, in particular the Southwest. 
  • Substantial changes in the water cycle are expected. A

NOAA moves to avert fish extinction in Bay Delta. “What is at stake here is not just the survival of species but the health of entire ecosystems and the economies that depend on them.”

NOAA Press release 
NOAA Biological Opinion 
Best of press & reactions from environmentalists, Central Valley farmers and Governor Schwarzenegger: Aquafornia

FROM THE NOAA RELEASE: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  released the final draft of a revised Bay-Delta biological opinion today that finds the water pumping operations in California’s Central Valley by the federal Bureau of Reclamation jeopardize the continued existence of several threatened and endangered species under the jurisdiction of NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

Federal biologists and hydrologists concluded that current water pumping operations in the Federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project should be changed to ensure survival of winter and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, the southern population of North American green sturgeon and Southern Resident killer whales, which rely on Chinook salmon runs for food.

Two independent peer review panels were conducted to ensure the opinion is solidly grounded in the
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