Water Crisis

Overall, climate change has had a negative on water resources as well as freshwater ecosystems. In the areas which runoff is projected to decline, it is expected that they will be subject to a reduction in the quality and value of the services provided by water resources. The potentially beneficial result of increased annual runoff in other areas is considered a moot point when the same area’s negative effects of increased rain fall variability are taken into account.

Trends in both climatic as well as non-climatic factors will determine the future effects of climate change on the water resources of the United States and other parts of the world. Analyzing these impacts can be difficult because the availability of water, the quality of water, and streamflow are incredibly sensitive to changes in precipitation and temperature. Other significant factors include increased demand for water due to population growth, economic changes, and changes in watershed characteristics.

An added element of uncertainty about the future of water resource management afforded by climate change is the fact that water resources in the United States are heavily managed and relatively scarce in many parts of the country. Several strategies have been developed to address this issue, but there is still a long way to go before the country is prepared for the potential crisis that could be created by climate change. The development and implementation of adaptation measures, like water conservation, the use of markets to allocate water, and the application of effective water management will play a very important role in determining the impacts on water resources that a climate change would bring.