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by Gary Pitzer L

ike clockwork, the scientific studies describing climate change and its expected impacts keep coming, reminding everyone in an

already-dry West of how much the future will differ from the past. The dispatches from the scientific community echo a familiar refrain: rising temperatures, more rain in some areas, a reduced snowpack (and less water storage) and reduced imported water deliveries. The reports also reveal a level of uncertainty, something water managers in the West have learned to live with. As Western Water went to press, the California Environmental Protec-

tion Agency unveiled a report describ- ing decreasing spring snowmelt runoff, rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, increasing wildfires, warming lakes and ocean waters, and the gradual migration of many plants and animals to higher elevations. The report, Indicators of Climate Change in California, says “while no overall trend is discernible in statewide snow-water content (the amount of water stored in snowpack), a decreasing trend has been observed in the north- ern Sierra Nevada, and an increasing trend in the southern Sierra Nevada.” Rich Atwater, the former general manager of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency who now serves as executive

director of the Southern California Water Committee, said the findings reinforce the need for adaptability. “I have worked with scientists [and] I respect their judgment,” he said. “They certainly indicate we can’t use our historic records like we have traditionally done in the water world when we do water resources planning.” Water planning in the West has always been a challenge, with regular swings from wet periods to droughts. Factor in the effects of global climate change and ensuring a diversified water portfolio takes on another degree of complexity.

“The planning challenge that water utilities are facing is how do


Western Water

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