Richard Palmer Public Lecture: "Incorporating Climate Change into Regional Water Supply Planning: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

Start Date/Time: Thursday, February 28, 2008, 3:30 PM
Location: Walker-Ames Room (Kane Hall Room 225)

Since the 1970's, water sources professionals have sought to successfully engage stakeholders in water resources planning and management. Like many other forms of Civil Engineering, water resources planning and management concerns public investments that are long-lived and which have significant impacts on both the natural and constructed environment. In addition, the values of stakeholders often conflict requiring negotiated agreements.

This talk describes a stakeholder driven process that attempts to incorporate climate change information into regional water supply and demand projections. The process involves the geographic area of King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties. In this process, five sub-committees were created by the Regional Water Supply Planning Coordinating Committee to investigate a wide range of issues. The goal of the Climate Change Committee was to develop a set of meteorological and hydrological data that could be easily accessed and used by others in the planning process to quantify the likely impacts of climate change.

This talk summarizes the accomplishments and challenges of incorporating climate change forecasts into decision making. Water resource managers in the region recognize the need to incorporate climate change into their evaluations and have worked together, across agency boundaries to ensure that this is accomplished. The data generated by the committee has been used by utilities to calculate the impacts of climate change on system yields and water demands. In all of the analyses, the impacts of climate change were shown to decrease water supply availability and to increase water demands. The challenges of the planning process are discussed, including identifying and engaging stakeholders, generating consensus among the participants, creating appropriate research tools and results, and incorporating the results into regional decision making.