WASHINGTON – More than 400 counties across the United States could be at risk of extreme water shortages in the next 50 years,according to a report released Tuesday by the National Resource Defense Council.
The study found a total of more than 1,100 counties with a at least a low risk of shortages. Tetra Tech,a research consulting firm in Pasadena,Calif.,prepared the report for the NRDC.
The report,which included data from models factoring in global climate change,showed large swaths of Texas,most of the Southwest and central Florida at risk of extreme water shortages. Climate change is likely to shift rain patterns,and there will be more evaporation in places with hotter weather.
The report also included the same projections using historical climate data,instead of climate change models. When global climate change wasn't factored in,extreme water shortages were isolated to the Southwest,a few counties in Florida and scattered other states.
Dan Lashof,the director of the Climate Center at the NRDC,said the increased risk when climate change was factored in showed that the most effective way to reverse the risk of water shortages is for the federal government to pass comprehensive climate change reform.
“There really is no way to manage the risks other than slowing the warming trend by curbing U.S. emissions,” he said.
Although the majority of the country was at much higher risk when climate change was factored in,some states faced larger problems than others.
“Texas is one of the states that exhibits the greatest change when considering climate change,” Sujoy Roy,the study's lead author,said.
According to the study,249 of 254 counties in Texas face extreme risk of water shortages in the models that show effects from climate change,while most others face a high risk.
Only five counties clustered on the eastern edge of the state would escape without any increased water shortage risk.
In the model without climate-change factors,the number of Texas counties at extreme risk drops to eight.
To reverse the trend,long-term efforts in climate change reduction,coupled with continuing water-efficiency improvements,are necessary,Roy said.