Monday, July 6, 2009

Current Water Use on the Great Plains is Unsustainable

Don't we know it...

WASHINGTON – A new climate change report warns of more extreme weather marked by heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall for Oklahoma and other Great Plains states. Released by the Obama administration, the report states that climate change already is having visible impacts on the U.S. “It tells us why remedial action is needed sooner rather than later, as well as showing why that action must include both global emissions reductions to reduce the extent of climate change and local adaptation measures to reduce the damage from the changes that are no long avoidable,’’ said John Holden, assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Key findings include: More frequent and intense heat waves, which will increase threat to human health; increased heavy rainfall, which will lead to more flooding, waterborne diseases and negative effects on agriculture; insect infestations; more wildfires; and a rise in sea level, which will result in coastal flooding and lost land. The report was described as the first in a decade to break down impacts by region.

For the Great Plains region, which covers Texas north through the Dakotas to the Canadian border, the report says temperatures are projected to continue to increase. In addition to heat waves, droughts and heavy rains, the report said the region’s already threatened water resources could be impacted even more. That, it states, could affect activities such as ranching as well as the health and prosperity of residents. Milder winters and earlier springs could encourage a greater number and earlier emergence of more pests, the report stated. Withdrawals from a major aquifer, which supplies most of the water used in the Great Plains, are already outpacing its natural recharge. “Current water use on the Great Plains is unsustainable,’’ the report warns.

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