Brandi Klingerman | October 26, 2018
Everything from aging water-related infrastructure and extreme weather to growing populations and climate change impacts the quantity and quality of water resources available throughout the United States. To better understand which challenges will be most important to address over the next 25 years, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) committee has released a report identifying the nation’s prevalent water resource needs, which provided advice to the U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area (USGS WMA), which commissioned the report.
Jennifer Tank, Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, served as one of 15 experts on the NASEM’s Committee on Future Water Resource Needs for the Nation. In the report, the committee outlined six critical challenges of both national and global water concerns as well as its recommendations.
“Our goal was to determine how the nation should prepare for a future where the probability of water scarcity and natural disasters are evolving,” said Tank. “Although very different scenarios, both are impacted by the same variables, such as human activity and climate change.”
The committee made multiple recommendations, most of which center on understanding the major factors that influence water quality and quantity throughout the U.S. Its assessment advocates for improving data collection and monitoring of groundwater networks, as well as prioritizing research on human interaction with water resources. The report highlighted the importance of developing a water accounting system, which should encompass not only the availability of water resources, but also how the Earth’s biophysical processes impact that availability.
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