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John Stewart

Colorado River Basin Study Projecting Major Imbalances in Water Supply and Demand Released

Comprehensive study developed by Interior and seven basin states looks at water supply and demand over the next 50 years; includes range of proposed strategies from stakeholders to mitigate projected imbalances

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the release of a study – authorized by Congress and jointly funded and prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation and the seven Colorado River Basin states – that projects water supply and demand imbalances throughout the Colorado River Basin and adjacent areas over the next 50 years. The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, the first of its kind, also includes a wide array of adaptation and mitigation strategies proposed by stakeholders and the public to address the projected imbalances.

The average imbalance in future supply and demand is projected to be greater than 3.2 million acre-feet by 2060, according to the study. One acre-foot of water is approximately the amount of water used by a single household in a year. The study projects that the largest increase in demand will come from municipal and industrial users, owing to population growth. The Colorado River Basin currently provides water to some 40 million people, and the study estimates that this number could nearly double to approximately 76.5 million people by 2060, under a rapid growth scenario.

"There's no silver bullet to solve the imbalance between the demand for water and the supply in the Colorado River Basin over the next 50 years – rather, it's going to take diligent planning and collaboration from all stakeholders to identify and move forward with practical solutions," said Secretary Salazar. "Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and this study provides a solid platform to explore actions we can take toward a sustainable water future. While not all of the proposals included in the study are feasible, they underscore the broad interest in finding a comprehensive set of solutions."

Authorized by the 2009 SECURE Water Act, the study analyzes future water supply and demand scenarios based on factors such as projected changes in climate and varying levels of growth in communities, agriculture and business in the seven Colorado River Basin states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

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Chief

Why are wetlands and aquatic habitats important?

Wetlands are among the most productive habitats on earth providing shelter and nursery areas for commercially and recreationally important animals like fish and shellfish, as well as wintering grounds for migrating birds. Coastal marshes are particularly valuable for preventing loss of life and property by moderating extreme floods and buffering the land from storms; they also form natural reservoirs and help maintain desirable water quality.

Aquatic habitats like those along the Gulf of Mexico are vital to seabirds, fish, and shellfish; economically the gulf alone contributes billions to the economy. Riverine deep water—like the Mississippi River and its many channels—is not only essential for navigation, industry, and recreation and therefore responsible for billions of dollars to the economy, but is also invaluable for natural resources. Songbirds and waterfowl use rivers as migratory guides, and rivers and lakes are both essential to countless species of fish, amphibians like frogs and salamanders, and reptiles like turtles, snakes, and alligators.

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Chief

Some Pollutants Declining in Willamette and Columbia Rivers

A study released by U.S. Geological Survey reports the Willamette, a large river associated with 70 percent of the population of Oregon, is getting cleaner in regard to some persistent toxic pollutants that are a legacy of past management practices. A 257-mile portion of the Columbia River between Umatilla, Oregon, and Skamokawa, Washington, is also showing a similar trend.

These findings are based on research by U.S. Geological Survey biologists. For 15 years, they have tracked environmental contaminants in the Pacific Northwest using ospreys and a variety of fish as environmental indicators. Ospreys are a good indicator species of aquatic ecosystem health because they eat almost exclusively large fish caught within a short distance of nest sites spaced at fairly regular intervals along large rivers. They often are directly exposed to pollutants that accumulate in aquatic food chains.

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Chief

Man-Made Chemicals Found in Drinking Water at Low Levels

from USGS Newsroom

Low levels of certain man-made chemicals remain in public water supplies after being treated in selected community water facilities.  

Water from nine selected rivers, used as a source for public water systems, was analyzed in a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"Most of the man-made chemicals assessed in the USGS study are unregulated in drinking water and not required to be monitored or removed," says Tom Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct. "These findings are not surprising and they will be important in helping regulators and assisting water utility managers arrive at decisions about future water treatment processes."

Scientists tested water samples for about 260 commonly used chemicals, including pesticides, solvents, gasoline hydrocarbons, personal care and household-use products, disinfection by-products, and manufacturing additives. This study did not look at pharmaceuticals or hormones.

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Chief

USGS Releases Climate Report

Getting Warmer? Prehistoric Climate Can Help Forecast Future Change

The first comprehensive reconstruction of an extreme warm period shows the sensitivity of the climate system to changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as well as the strong influence of ocean temperatures, heat transport from equatorial regions, and greenhouse gases on Earth's temperature. 

New data allow for more accurate predictions of future climate and improved understanding of today's warming. Past warm periods provide real data on climate change and are natural laboratories for understanding the global climate system.

Scientists examined fossils from 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago, known as the mid-Pliocene warm period. Research was conducted by the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) group, led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Chief

Perchlorate Contamination Report Released

Perchlorate Contamination of Drinking Water: Regulatory Issues and Legislative Actions October 16, 2008

Summary:

Perchlorate is the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares, and other products. Used heavily by the Department of Defense (DOD) and related industries, perchlorate also occurs naturally and is present in some organic fertilizer. This soluble, persistent compound has been detected in drinking water supplies, especially in California. It also has been found in milk and many foods. Because of this widespread occurrence, concern over the potential health risks of perchlorate exposure has increased, and some states, water utilities, and Members of Congress have urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a federal drinking water standard for this chemical. Regulatory issues involve the relative health benefits and costs of federal regulation, including environmental cleanup and water treatment costs, both of which are driven by federal and state standards. (California and Massachusetts have set standards.) EPA has spent years assessing perchlorate's health effects and occurrence (including its occurrence in food) to determine whether a national standard is warranted. Interagency disagreements over the risks of perchlorate exposure led several federal agencies to ask the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate perchlorate's health effects and EPA's risk analyses. In 2005, the NRC issued its report, and EPA adopted the NRC's recommended reference dose (i.e., the expected safe dose) for perchlorate exposure. Subsequent studies raised more concerns about potential effects of low-level exposures, particularly for infants in certain cases. On October 3, 2008, EPA made a preliminary determination not to regulate perchlorate; a final decision is expected in late 2008. This report reviews perchlorate contamination issues and related actions.

Click here to download the complete Congressional Research Service Report

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