November 7, 2010
by Greg Harman on Queblog
Population growth, rising temperatures, and changing rainfall patterns are poised to wreak havoc on the country’s water supply, leaving one in three counties facing high risks of water shortages by 2050, according to a report released this week by the Natural Resource Defense Council.
And the study, which bases its findings on population trends and leading international climate models, places Texas at center stage of those expected shortfalls. Already in many areas of the state more water is being withdrawn from surface and groundwater supplies than is returned. Factoring a near doubling of the state’s population, loss of an inch of rainfall per year from changing weather patterns, and adding a nearly three-degree rise in average temperatures by mid-century expected to cook off another five to seven inches of rainfall through increased evaporation rates would place most of the state at “extreme” risk of loss of water sustainability, the researchers found.
“Water shortages can strangle economic development and agricultural production and affected communities,” said Dan Lashof, director of the NRDC’s Climate Center, said in
a prepared release
. “As a result, cities and states will bear real and significant costs if Congress fails to take the steps necessary to slow down and reverse the warming trend."