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that continue to deny climate change; but you cannot deny the increase in fl ood peaks and the increase in drought potential,” he said.

Government entities are “defi nitely behind the curve” in dealing with climate change, in part because “our natural resource reality is changing faster than our management institu- tions can adapt,” Snow said.

The way forward is through efforts such as integrated resource manage- ment and building a supply portfolio in the same manner people do with their retirement investments. “We don’t put all our money into real estate or a single stock and that’s what it takes with water, just a broad-based invest- ment,” Snow said.

Part of the investment is increased groundwater storage as well as the abil- ity for managers to protect the stored water, Snow said, adding “there’s suf- fi cient infrastructure to do more,” with basins in Southern California that are underutilized. “It’s easier to keep water in stor- age in groundwater basins for a longer period of time than surface storage,” he said. “Surface storage can have car- ryover but there’s always pressure to pull it down; you have higher levels of evaporation so if you put water in the ground you can carry it over longer without a lot of evaporative losses.” Groundwater storage can be a buffer against climate change provided the appropriate infrastructure exists. Regions and local managers “need the ability to do storage projects and have the ability to protect the water; mean- ing that you build up a nice storage or groundwater mound, I don’t think it’s right that others can come in and es- sentially steal that water,” Snow said. To that extent, “a good dialogue” with groundwater managers is needed to determine the kind of tools necessary to facilitate increased storage, Snow said. Meanwhile, federal, state and local reservoirs “need to be operated in a more coordinated fashion” in conjunc- tion with groundwater storage, a pros- pect that holds some potentially tricky consequences.

July/August 2013

“That puts a lot of pressure on water rights and tracking rights and who is serving whom,” Snow said. “That means we have to change our regulatory structures to accommodate a more modern way of managing water.” Moving water to underground storage and pumping it for use takes energy, something that will be affected by climate change’s impact on hydro- power production. About 15 percent of California’s electricity comes from hydropower, and snowpack loss means high-elevation reservoirs might not be able to store enough water for hydro- power generation during the summer months when the demand is much higher and hydropower is priced higher. In the meantime, there remain “millions of acre-feet in potential” from expanded water recycling, desalination and water conservation, according to Snow. Overall, he believes “we can be much further along” in adapting to climate change and that “the next several years will be very telling of how quickly we make progress across the board,” he said. “It’s not just local man- agers doing a better job it’s a better way of regulating to encourage people.”

A ‘Slow Road’ to Progress? Climate change will continue to have its skeptics, and politics aside, there have always been extreme weather events that preceded the mass intro- duction of GHGs into the atmosphere, a point referenced by President Obama in his speech. “Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by cli- mate change,” Obama said. “Droughts and fi res and fl oods, they go back to ancient times. But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet.”

While “some people want to dispute the term ‘climate change,’ one thing that we can see is there is broad consensus that we are having increas- ing probability of extreme weather events, whether it’s big fl oods or more severe droughts,” said Atwater with the Southern California Water Committee.


“Pullquote.” – Name

Climate change is projected to have a big impact on California’s agricultural industry.

Read a report from the World Meteorological Organization

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