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Lack of Discussion of Climate Change Effects on Federal Water Infrastructure

State of the InfrastructureBy Dr. Marc Kodack  

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released a joint report at the end of 2019 on their water-related infrastructure that went largely unnoticed. Notably, however, the report omits discussion of climate change implications for this aging infrastructure. The report includes infrastructure that the two entities collaboratively operate, as well as respective programs for “power generation, water supply, navigation, flood risk reduction, [and] recreation.” While the benefits and challenges to different types of infrastructure are summarized in the first section of the report – e.g., dams, hydropower facilities, navigation (ports, locks, and dredging), canals and pipelines, bridges and roads, levees –  climate change is inexplicably not mentioned as being a challenge to infrastructure. Thus, there is no consideration of the consequences of climate change effects on any of this infrastructure (see here for effects to interstate highway bridges). (more…)

New Water and Drought Tools Help Forecast Climate and Security Risks

USGS Mapping Tool_2020By Marc Kodack

Ready, easy access to timely water-related information is a benefit to any community because the information can provide current conditions and/or short-term forecast estimates. The information may provide forewarning to impending conditions that may adversely affect people and/or property. Baseline conditions may also be established from which changes over time can be determined.

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new mapping tool that shows daily natural water storage for 110,000 sub-regions in the lower 48 states relative to historical conditions for the same time of year. “Natural water storage…includes water present on the landscape such as standing water and water on trees, snowpack, soil water, and shallow groundwater. It does not include water in rivers or deep groundwater.” (more…)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and New Studies Warn of Climate Change and Water Security

Langhan-Riekhof_2020

Maria Langan-Riekhof, Director of the Strategic Futures Group at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, speaks to the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Hearing: “Climate Change in the Era of Strategic Competition,” December 11, 2019

By Marc Kodack

Concerns about the effects of climate change on security – particularly the way that climate change can exacerbate threats to U.S. interests – have driven several recent U.S. House of Representative hearings. Senior intelligence officials have been at the forefront of these warnings. For example, in recent testimony  by Maria Langan-Riekhof of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (during an extraordinary hearing of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee titled “Climate Change in the Era of Strategic Competition”), she highlighted that water stresses in the Middle East and Central America are increasing, and that these changes will degrade already poor government services, strain communities, and challenge agricultural production. These and other stresses can lead to increased local and regional political, economic, and social instability. (more…)

Femia: Army War College finds service ill-equipped to face climate change

Francesco Femia on TRT WorldLast week, the Federal News Network’s “Federal Drive” ran an interview with the Center for Climate and Security’s Co-Founder, Francesco Femia, regarding a recent Army War College report that alarmingly found the U.S. military “precariously underprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.” Femia highlighted the key takeaways from the report, including an extraordinary finding specific to the Army, which stated that the service is “precipitously close to mission failure concerning hydration of the force in contested arid environments.” Femia recommended that both technical, as well as big strategic and operational changes and investments, are needed to prepare the Army, and the broader U.S. military, for this rapidly-changing operational landscape – including to prepare for the likelihood of adversaries taking advantage of these changes, and a lack of U.S. leadership for addressing them. Click here for the full interview.

Climate Change, Water Reuse and Military Readiness

Military Sealift Command

Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4 lifts a pallet of bottled water from the deck of Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS Niagara Falls

By Marc Kodack

The Environmental Protection Agency recently published a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan, seeking comments on the plan by December 16, 2019 (ten days from today, so get to your comment stations). The comment period raises the importance of understanding that climate change will manifest itself primarily through water, and that water reuse will become more and more important in the future. As the draft plan itself notes:

Climate change will greatly increase the risk that water supplies will not be able to keep pace with demand, necessitating the need to develop new, drought proof supplies.

(more…)

Future Climate Scenario Projects Water Woes for U.S. Military Bases in Guam

Multi Sail 2016

Aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam, 5 March 2016

By Marc Kodack

The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a report that assessed “the influence of future climate change and sea level rise on freshwater resources (surface-water and groundwater) of Guam.” These changes have serious implications for the local population, as well as for Department of Defense installations including Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. The work was funded by the DoD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. (more…)

U.S. Department of Defense Funds Research on Capturing Water from Fog

Marine_Fog_Pattern_Moon Bay

Marine fog rolls in at Half Moon Bay, California

By Marc Kodack

Ensuring sufficient potable water supplies are available for its military and humanitarian operations, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) will be challenged to meet these potable water needs as climate change and its effects on water supply are felt around the world. To help address this, DoD awarded a grant to California State University, Monterrey Bay to test the efficiencies of capturing water, via mesh-based devices, from “fog events” along coastal California. The grant was from DoD’s Research and Education Program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Minority-Serving Institutions. A mesh device produces potable water that can be used by people and for irrigation. The research will also “expand knowledge about the generation and dissipation of fog” using existing droplet measuring technology.