LOS ANGELES Eight of the top U.S. water
utilities are joining forces to study how rising sea levels,
droughts and other effects of global warming are taking a toll
on supplies of drinking water, they said on Tuesday.
The coalition, known as the Water Utility Climate Alliance,
said water agencies need access to the best possible climate
change research as they prepare to invest hundreds of billions
of dollars in infrastructure over the next 15 years.
"Our systems are facing risk due to diminishing snowpack,
bigger storms, more frequent drought and rising sea levels,"
said Susan Leal, general manager of the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission, a member of the alliance. "We need to be
organized to respond to these risks -- that's why we've formed
Other members of the coalition include Denver Water, the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection, the Portland
Water Bureau, the San Diego County Water Authority, the Seattle
Public Utilities and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Altogether, the WUCA members supply drinking water for more
than 36 million people, the alliance said.
Last month, scientists at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography said a water supply crisis was looming in the
western United States thanks to human-caused climate change
that has already altered the region's river flows, snow packs
and air temperatures.
Changes over the past half century have meant less snow
pack and more rain in the mountains, rivers with greatly
reduced flows by summer and overall drier summers in the
region, they noted.
In its first official act, the WUCA said it is urging the
U.S. Climate Change Science Program and researchers in the
climate change field to improve and refine climate models to
apply them at the regional or local level and to ensure that
water providers have access to consistent climate data.
The coalition also called on scientists to coordinate
international research efforts and to develop tools for
policy-making and planning for abrupt climate changes.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Andre Grenon)