The Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia River Basin Climate Impact Assessment and Washington State’s 2016 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast will be featured at the conference on November 15th.
These studies are part of a growing body of research and planning assessing the impact of climate change on meeting power, irrigation, flood control, fisheries, recreation and other demands. The consensus is that, on average, the basin will see more precipitation in winter and less during the summer. By extension, runoff and river flows are expected to increase in the winter and decrease in the summer.
Said Andy Dunau, the Forum’s Executive Director, “People are pretty much moving beyond whether climate change exists, who to blame or what to blame. This session takes us into the conversations of what to expect, who it effects and management options.”
Often, this means revisiting what’s included in and accounted for in the regulatory environment, e.g.-- recovery plans for endangered species and environmental impact statements. For instance, the process to update the Columbia River EIS was spurred by a U.S. District Court decision from Judge Simon. The judge noted a lot has changed in twenty years, including the need to account for climate change and new alternatives to protect ESA listed steelhead and salmon.
Reclamation’s assessment compiles research from a wide range of sources to consider possible impacts across eight water resource categories: water and power infrastructure, reservoir conditions and water delivery, flood control operations, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, endangered species, ecological resiliency, and recreation.
At the conference, Bureau of Reclamation Resource Services Manager Bryan Horsburgh will provide a high-level view of the assessment’s analysis across these water resource categories.
Said Horsburgh, “The assessment was done internally to provide a reconnaissance level view of potential changes to things like precipitation and river flows. We can then look at whether we have the infrastructure in place to handle possible operational changes. The assessment isn’t decisional in any way. It just helps prepare us for participating in any number of regulatory and operational discussions.”
On a parallel path, the Washington Department of Ecology collaborated with the Washington State University Water Research Center on a Columbia Basin water supply and demand forecast. “The forecast gives regional and local pictures of how the water supply and demand is expected to change,” said Johathan Yoder, director of the State Water Research Center.
For instance, between 2000 and 2035 water demand is expected to increase by 9 percent across the state. At the same time, climate change impacts show water supply being less available when demands are highest.
Please join us at the conference to learn more.