What is in this article?:
- US not prepared for growing water crisis
- Key findings
- The majority of U.S. states are unprepared for growing water threats to their economies and public health.
- At least 36 states are facing possible water supply challenges, and only six of those have comprehensive adaptation plans.
* Nearly nine out of 10 states are poised for more frequent and intense storm events and/or increased flooding.
* While at least 36 states are facing possible water supply challenges, only six of those have comprehensive adaptation plans.
* The majority of states - 29 or nearly 60 percent - have done either nothing at all or very little to prepare for water-related climate impacts. (See full list below.)
* Six states - Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota - have done virtually nothing to address climate pollution or prepare for climate change in the face of growing water risks.
* Water preparedness activities appear to have "slowed or stalled" in four of the nine best prepared states - Alaska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
* Only 22 states have developed plans and formally adopted targets or goals to cut the pollution that causes climate change, which comes mainly from power plants and vehicles.
The 29 states that have done either nothing at all or very little to prepare for water-related climate impacts are broken into two groups: The least prepared or "Category 4" (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah); and the second least prepared or "Category 3" (Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming).
The full list of the nine most prepared states ("Category 1") consists of: Alaska, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The climate crisis poses far-reaching implications for water supply, quality, accessibility, and use. More intense rainfall events increase flooding risks to property and health, and can cause devastating economic damages. They also overwhelm often-antiquated infrastructure, leading to increased discharges of untreated sewage in waterways and potentially contaminating drinking water supplies and closing beaches. Drought conditions and warmer temperatures threaten supply for municipalities, agriculture, and industries, and could increase water demand for irrigation, hydropower production and power plant cooling.
"A handful of state governments should be recognized as climate leaders for developing robust comprehensive adaptation plans while taking steps to cut global warming pollution," said NRDC water policy analyst and report author Ben Chou. "On the flip side, there is tremendous potential for so many more states to follow suit. The first step is understanding how your state will be impacted by climate change. With an ever-growing body of research, new adaptation tools, and guidance resources, there's no excuse not to tackle this challenge."
There are proactive steps states can take to minimize the impact on communities increasingly vulnerable to climate-induced changes. NRDC encourages all states to undertake the following key actions:
* Enact plans to cut emissions from power plants, vehicles and other major sources of heat-trapping pollution; coupled with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
* Conduct a statewide vulnerability assessment to determine potential climate change impacts.
* Develop a comprehensive adaptation plan to address climate risks in all relevant sectors.
* Prioritize and support implementation of the adaptation plan.
* Measure progress regularly and update the adaptation plan as needed.
For more information about NRDC's Ready or Not and to find out how your state ranks, go to http://www.nrdc.org/water/readiness. For state-by-state sound bites (SOTs) and b-roll videos, visit Ready or Not "Press Materials" sidebar.