Climate Assessment predicts water stress on multiple levels for U.S.

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This graphic from the Fourth National Climate Assessment shows groundwater depletion in U.S. aquifers a decade ago. Today, these underground water supplies are even more depleted. 

Julia Poska| November 30, 2018

We already know climate change is having major impacts on rainfall. The 2018 Iowa Climate Statement said the strongest rainfall events of the year may double in intensity by 2025.  Climate change will alter the hydrologic cycle in other ways as well, majorly changing society’s relationship with water.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, controversially released Black Friday, details the forecasted changes to water supplies in the U.S.. It compiles the findings of over 300 experts and has been reviewed by 13 federal agencies, in an effort to inform top decision-makers and common citizens.

More intense rainfall will be met with more intense drought and reduced snowpack, which is bad news for communities that rely on glacial melt for their water supply. These changes are exacerbating water availability issues caused primarily by overuse of groundwater aquifers in much of the U.S..

As higher temperatures create even higher demand for water for drinking and irrigation, this problem will only get worse and worse, which will have major implications for both the food supply and the industrial sector.

The altered hydrologic cycle will impact the quality of our limited quantity of water as well. Rising water temperatures will impact the health of ecosystems, and changes  runoff patterns of pollutants into water will impact human health and pose challenges for water treatment facilities. Sea level rise could also threaten coastal drinking water supplies with the potential intrusion of saltwater flooding.

The report says the biggest water issues for the Midwest are adapting stormwater management systems and managing harmful algae blooms. Iowa is already familiar with floods produced by intense rainfall.  Algae blooms, fueled by nutrient-runoff from farm fields, will be further increased by rising temperatures.

Other water-related challenges detailed in the assessment include the deterioration of water infrastructure and managing water more strategically in the future.


On The Radio – UI grad student studies water in Haiti

Joanna Krajewski (far left) during her 2013 trip to Haiti. (Joanna Krajewski/blogspot)
Nick Fetty | April 11, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at a University of Iowa graduate student who is combining her interests in public health and health communication to study water issues in Haiti.  

Transcript: UI grad student studies water in Haiti

A University of Iowa graduate student is working on water quality issues in the western hemisphere’s poorest country.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Joanna Krajewski – a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication – recently returned from her third trip to Haiti where she has worked on issues involving water quality and availability.

Krajewski first travelled to Haiti in 2012 as part of her practicum project for her Master’s in Public Health at the UI. During that time she worked with the Iowa-based Community Health Initiative-Haiti group on their Clean Water Project.

Specifically, Krajewski has worked with a system that aims to eliminate cholera and other waterborne diseases from drinking water, which if untreated can be fatal for infants and young children in developing countries around the world.

Krajewski credits her experience to the UI’s water sustainability related IndiaWinterim course in January 2012 with helping her to realize how she could connect her public health coursework to the global water sector.

Krajewski: “My experiences in India and Haiti have definitely amplified my passion for studying global water issues and I think in large part this passion is fuelled by the outrage I feel about the burden of waterborne diseases especially on women and children in the developing world and how so much of much of this illness, suffering, and death could be prevented.”

For more information about Krajewski’s work, visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.