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August 2009

Water, wastewater & stormwater
Better safe than sorry
Preparing for the potential impacts of climate change.

Gov. Schwarzenegger signs landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The EPA's proposed mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html

Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change

San Francisco flooding on the rise
This chart maps historical monthly mean higher high water (MHHW) levels relative to the San Francisco city datum and estimated 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of future high tides. The dotted lines indicate where flooding will occur in some areas due to the distribution of the high tides - long before the climate change projections of even higher tides exceed the weir levels. Source: Carollo Engineers

Sound advice

  • AWWA guidelines protect water infrastructure from potential climate change.

    The effects of projected climate change will impact more than just storm- and wastewater infrastructure. Water managers should factor future climate changes into long-term designs for infrastructure and water management decisions. Such factors include:

    Rising snowline levels and earlier spring runoff from snowmelt that require re-examining water storage management decisions.

  • Changing precipitation patterns that are challenging the timing of scheduled releases and refilling of reservoirs. Without adequate knowledge of the changing precipitation patterns, there is an increased risk of flooding upstream of reservoirs.
  • Rising sea levels that enable saltwater to intrude further inland, encroaching on freshwater aquifers and estuaries.
  • To help water managers and planners think about these issues, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) published the following set of recommendations a decade ago:

    Water agencies should consider re-examining engineering design assumptions, operating rules, system optimization, and contingency planning for existing and planned water-management systems under a wider range of climatic conditions than traditionally used.

  • Water agencies and providers should explore the vulnerability of both structural and non-structural reservoir operation and water supply management water systems to plausible future climate changes, not just past climatic variability.
  • Governments at all levels should re-evaluate legal, technical, and economic approaches for managing water resources in the light of possible climate changes.
  • Cooperation of water agencies with leading scientific organizations to facilitate the exchange of information on state-of-the-art thinking about climate change and impacts on water resources.

Parks & recreation
Regional renaissance
An award-winning development is designed to stimulate Southern California's ecology and economy.

A great park
Twelve sustainability objectives have been developed to serve as a guide in the design and operation of the Orange County Great Park in California.

1. Biodiversity. Provide ecological habitats and corridors to reflect the local natural heritage and enhance biodiversity in the region.
2. Water. Protect and conserve natural and potable water resources.
3. Land. Remediate contaminated areas and develop healthy living soil.
4. Energy. Reduce the use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases.
5. Materials. Minimize the impact of construction materials and the generation of waste.
6. Air quality. Improve air quality of internal and external environments.
7. Heritage. Instill a sense of place that references the history of the site and the region.
8. Well-being. Protect and improve the health and productivity of those who visit and work in the park.
9. Connection to nature. Provide opportunities to experience nature and environmental education in the greater Orange County area.
10. Inclusion. Provide park experiences that match the cultural and recreational expectations of all visitors. Encourage community participation and civic engagement.
11. Transit-oriented. Provide a development with less polluting transportation choices and connections within and beyond the park.
12. Monitoring. Incorporate ongoing measurements and monitoring of key sustainability targets.