Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,525 Total Non-Federal Funds: $4,763
Principal Investigators: Michael Barber, Jennifer Adam, Jonathan Yoder
Abstract: Integrated water resources management for sustainable development in the face of spatial and temporal changes in water resources caused by complex interactions between climate variability, ecosystem processes, and increased demand from human activities that can destabilize economies and ecosystems is extremely challenging. A report to the Washington State legislature identified maintaining critical energy supplies, aiding State agriculture, protecting public water supplies, safeguarding fish and stream flows, and firefighting preparation as important issues caused by droughts. An analysis provided to the Washington State Department of Ecology in 2012 identified more than 10 communities in the state that could run out of water in the upcoming decade. Water availability during drought periods in certain areas within the State has already reached crisis levels and the problems are expected to intensify as the effects of global climate change and population growth continue to alter the supply and demand patterns. Recently proposed legislation indicates that even under normal circumstances, many watersheds in the state are now facing the real problem of allocating water between human and environmental needs as a result of growing populations, the Endangered Species Act, and water quality implications associated with TMDL requirements. In addition, predictions of increased rain-on-snow events may lead to more flooding as evidenced by a recent event occurring in western Washington. In Seattle, Washington the winter precipitation event exceeded the 24-hour, 100-year design storm by more than 17 percent. Increased attention to contemporary issues involving integration of hydropower with renewable energy, pumped storage, and pending Columbia River treaty issues with Canada are emerging issues that must be addressed. These factors have accentuated the need for both research and public outreach programs concerning water-related issues facing the State of Washington. The impacts of urban growth and agricultural production will continue to affect the quality and quantity of water resources. Complex interactions and options will need to be understood by all stakeholders so that informed decisions can be made. The State of Washington Water Research Center is helping to address these challenges and opportunities through its research, education, and outreach missions. Information transfer through conferences, workshops, presentations, and personal contacts are vital components of this objective.