A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Interior Report Assesses Scientific Water-Monitoring and Modeling Systems and Calls for Modernization to Help Sustain Water Supplies
Office of the Secretary Policy Management and Budget
Improvements Needed to Help Water Managers Address Impacts of Climate Change and Other Stressors on Water Resources
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Department of the Interior today released a report that assesses the status of scientific information available to help understand the impacts of climate change and other stressors on U.S. freshwater resources and calls for modernization of systems to help monitor and sustain water supplies.
The report to Congress reviews the state of existing science and identifies strategies for improving systems to collect climate-related data and water monitoring information. The improvements are intended to help water managers predict, respond and adapt to the effects of climate change on the nation's freshwater supplies so that they can help ensure adequate water quantity and quality.
“Assessing and modernizing the tools that help us understand climate change is a critical step in helping decision makers and water resource managers ensure that current and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. “Sustainable supplies of water will never cease to play a critical role in public health, as well as irrigation, recreation and other activities that sustain our local communities and power our economies.”
The report underscores the importance of maintaining, enhancing or developing adequate water measuring and monitoring systems to track water availability and quality so that water managers can make decisions about allocations of water and the infrastructure that helps it flow with the best information available.
The report also provides suggestions about ways to modernize data systems, management, modeling and water measurement tools and highlights the need to coordinate data among agencies. Programs highlighted for modernization include: the National Streamflow Information Program, the National Groundwater Monitoring Network, and implementation of the National Water-Quality Monitoring Network.
“Freshwater is under increasing stress from changes in climate, changes in land use, and a growing demand for a variety of services related to the health and well-being of society, a vibrant economy, food production, energy reliability, and national security,” said Dr. Jerad Bales, Chief of Research and Programs for Water at USGS, and one of the lead authors of the report. “Effective management of the nation's water resources will require meaningful action to address many of the shortcomings that were identified in this report on water and climate observational and modeling systems.”
Today's report also builds upon the April 2011 Bureau of Reclamation report assessing the risks and impacts of climate change on western water resources. Reclamation's SECURE Water Act Report, with fact sheets highlighting climate challenges and impacts in the eight western river basins, is available online at www.usbr.gov/climate.
To implement the SECURE Water Act and to help meet the water challenges of the future, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar established Interior's WaterSMART program in February 2010 – designed to identify strategies that will ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands. Through the WaterSMART program, USGS is developing the National Water Census and will continue to work with its partner agencies to support integrated scientific research to benefit water resources.
The SMART in WaterSMART stands for “Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow.” More information about WaterSMART is online at http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/