More is yet to come due to drought, expanding population and rising sea levels
Despite the relative rarity of droughts in the second half of the 20th century, historic records show that regular droughts are more typical for the Southeast. Global warming suggests more is yet to come— continued climate changes will potentially cause both more extremely dry periods and more heavy rainfall events. And, sea level rise could contaminate critical underground freshwater reserves.
The Southeast should take the following actions to plan for increasing variability in water supply:
- Reduce global warming pollution to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and limit the impacts on communities and wildlife
- Improve water-use efficiency and conservation
- Consider sea-level rise in managing coastal freshwater resources
- Take global warming into account when choosing water management strategies to meet multiple demands
- Maintain and restore natural forest and wetland systems that absorb flood waters and provide efficient water storage
Rapidly expanding population, irrigation and power generation have increased water demands.
- Since 1960, the Southeast region's population double.
- The Southeast is home to 58 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the nation.
- From 1960 - 2000 water use for municipalities, irrigation and thermoelectric power more than tripled.
Read the Full Report: More Variable and Uncertain Water Supply: Global Warming's Wake-Up Call for the Southeastern United States (PDF)