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Human activities over the past century have resulted in releases of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to the onset of significant changes in the earth's climate that will have substantial impacts on water resources, including water quality. More specifically, the various predicted alterations to temperatures and precipitation could significantly affect water supplies in our region, as drought periods become more severe and snowpack levels decrease, leading to depleted groundwater levels and decreasing amounts of imported water available to the region.
In addition to water quantity, predicted changes to weather patterns and sea level could also drastically alter hydrological and ecosystem processes in the region. Such impacts could manifest in multiple ways, such as decreases in stream flow, reductions in, and changes to, aquatic habitats, increases in surface water temperature, increases in pollutant levels, sedimentation, and algal growth, and changes in salinity levels and acidification in coastal areas. These impacts could affect many beneficial uses of our waters, including those protecting ecological habitats, recreational uses and commercial practices. Because preserving water quality is essential to protect both human populations and natural ecosystems, and to ensure their prosperity into the future, it is imperative to assess these impacts, and to develop strategies to adapt to the upcoming changes and mitigate their effects on water quality and on the beneficial uses of our waters.
As part of its efforts to address these threats to water quality, the Los Angeles Water Board developed an initial "Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation" for the Los Angeles region. This document takes a first look at impacts of climate on water supply and water quality for various waterbody types of the region, as well as through the lenses of the Los Angeles Water Board's programs, and begins a discussion on issues that will need to be considered and tackled over time.
This information item was organized to share with the Board and stakeholders in the region the results of the latest research assessing climate change effects on a regional level. Presentations by Dr. Alex Hall (UCLA), Dr. Patrick Barnard (USGS) and Dr. Juliette Hart (USC) introduced the results of local models describing the effects of climate change on temperatures, precipitations, runoff and snowpack in our region, as well as the potential impacts of sea level rise and storms in coastal zones. Those results were discussed in the context of future water availability, vulnerability assessment and possible adaptation strategies for the Region.