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The State of Climate Adaptation in Water Resources Management: Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean

Created: 12/21/2017 - Updated: 12/19/2018

Abstract

The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts and a review of the prevalent work occurring on climate change adaptation in the Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean, especially focusing on activities as they relate to water resources. The Southeastern United States includes Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Florida. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) comprise the U.S. Caribbean region. This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and, where possible, assess climate-informed water resources action in the region.

The synthesis includes:

  • A summary of key regional climate change impacts and discussion on how the aforementioned issues combine to influence water supply, demand and use, quality, and delivery;
  • The results of a survey sent to federal, tribal, state, and other practitioners to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate-informed water resources management;
  • Examples of adaptation initiatives from the region, focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to water resources;
  • Eighteen full-length case studies, detailing how adaptation is taking shape; and
  • A guide to the current suite of tools available to support adaptation action in water resources management, planning, and conservation.

Published On

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Keywords

Scale: 
Community / Local
Multilateral / Transboundary
National / Federal
Regional / Subnational
State / Provincial
Tribal / First Nation
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Flooding
Flow patterns
Ocean acidification
Oxygen concentrations (hypoxia)
Precipitation
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Capacity Building
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Governance and Policy
Habitat/Biome Type: 
Freshwater
Aquatic
Climate Type: 
Temperate
Subtropical
Sociopolitical Setting: 
Urban
Rural
Suburban
Industrial

Related Resources

Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Fisheries
Public Health
Tourism / Recreation
Water Resources
Wildlife
Summary: 

A comprehensive watershed management plan has been developed to help guide the restoration of Three Mile Creek, an urban watershed located near Mobile, Alabama. Three Mile Creek suffers significant non-point source pollution and sedimentation issues, and is also vulnerable to climate change impacts, including sea level rise and increasing storm surge.

Statewide efforts to improve water resources management in Alabama

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Policy
Water Resources
Summary: 

State agencies and regional stakeholders in Alabama are in the process of creating a state water management plan to ensure sustainable management of Alabama’s water resources in the face of a growing population and increasing climatic variability.

Climatic Variability and Water Supply Planning in Tampa Bay

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Disaster Risk Management
Water Resources
Summary: 

Tampa Bay Water is a drinking water utility servicing over two million residents in Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. The utility is working to assess how climate change will affect local hydrology and water supply, provide forecasting tools to inform decision making, and diversify water supply sources in the region.

Planning for Change in Chatham County, Georgia

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Policy
Water Resources
Summary: 

Chatham County is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, and erosion. Increasing the ability of the county to adequately prepare for and recover from the impacts of climate change are important goals of the Chatham County – Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Implementing green infrastructure to enhance stormwater management in Louisville, Kentucky

Screenshot from the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) "A How-To Guide for Building Your Own Rain Garden"

Case Study
Adaptation Phase: 
Implementation
Sector Addressed: 
Transportation / Infrastructure
Summary: 

In response to combined sewer overflows, stormwater quality issues, and regional flooding in Louisville, Kentucky, the Louisville and Jefferson County Municipal Sewer District (MSD) has implemented a variety of green infrastructure projects to help capture and infiltrate stormwater.

Enhancing Flood Resilience with the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan

Photo attributed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

 

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Disaster Risk Management
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Summary: 

The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is a 50-year plan that proposes to use water system upgrades and urban design projects to reduce flood risk and improve stormwater, surface water, and groundwater management in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sector Addressed: 
Disaster Risk Management
Water Resources
Summary: 

The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, the largest civil engineering project in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was designed to reduce storm surge and flood risk for New Orleans after devastating flooding during Hurricane Katrina.

Using Advocacy to Enhance Gulf Coast Resilience

Photo attributed to Ebyabe. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

 

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Policy
Summary: 

The Gulf Restoration Network is an environmental advocacy organization that seeks to unite Gulf Coast citizens to protect and restore natural resources.

Sector Addressed: 
Disaster Risk Management
Summary: 

Waveland, Mississippi is a small town by the Gulf of Mexico. Many residents reside in areas less than 15 meters above sea level. Frequent floods and resulting costs of insurance rates and home repairs are driving residents out of the city.

Sector Addressed: 
Education / Outreach
Summary: 

The Carrboro-Chapel Hill region of North Carolina has experienced several severe droughts, is experiencing steady population and economic growth, and may also experience increased flooding and more severe droughts as a result of climate change.

Long-Range Water Supply Planning in the Town of Cary, North Carolina

Screenshot from Youtube video "North Cary Water Reclamation Facility" uploaded by Hanna Rodz-M.

Case Study
Adaptation Phase: 
Planning
Sector Addressed: 
Water Resources
Summary: 

The Town of Cary, North Carolina, recently completed an update to its Long-Range Water Resources Plan. The plan update incorporates a probability-based look at how various factors influence water supply, such as population growth and climate variability.

Sector Addressed: 
Land Use Planning
Summary: 

The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (UNCWI) is a collaborative effort between regional land trusts, nonprofit entities, and several local municipalities and counties to protect drinking water supplies and quality in the Upper Neuse River Basin through land acquisition and/or conservation easements.

Integrating Climate Change into Plan Revisions at Francis Marion National Forest

Photo attributed to Bill Lea. This work has been released into the public domain by its author. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service released a Planning Rule requiring the integration of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation into revisions of forest management plans.

Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Fisheries
Wildlife
Summary: 

Researchers at the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit and Tennessee Tech are developing a structured decision-making model to guide adaptive dam management at the Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River in Tennessee.

Identifying and Reducing Climate Risks to Water Resources in an Eastern Virginia Water Utility

Photo attributed to William Grimes. This work has been released into the public domain by its author. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Education / Outreach
Research
Water Resources
Summary: 

Newport News Waterworks is a water provider for several cities and counties in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain of Eastern Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Climate change is projected to cause issues for local water supply and quality.

A Climate-Informed Update of Virginia’s State Wildlife Action Plan

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the National Park Service. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Fisheries
Wildlife
Summary: 

To better understand and address climate change in its 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan update, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VA DGIF) applied downscaled climate change modeling in a vulnerability assessment for 20 different species.

Integrating Climate Change into Plan Revisions at El Yunque National Forest

Photo attributed to lessandro Cai (OliverZena). This work has been released into the public domain by its author. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Forestry
Policy
Wildlife
Summary: 

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service released a Planning Rule requiring the integration of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation into revisions of forest management plans. The El Yunque National Forest began the forest plan revision process in 2014.

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