Climate and Urban Water Providers in Arizona: An Analysis of Vulnerability Perceptions and Climate Information
|Climate and Urban Water Providers in Arizona: An Analysis of Vulnerability Perceptions and Climate Information
|Year of Publication
|Carter, R, Morehouse, BJ
|CLIMAS Report Series
|Climate Assessment for the Southwest, University of Arizona
Among the many stressors affecting urban water supply and demand in the U.S. Southwest is climatic variability, particularly prolonged drought. At shorter time scales, weather events such as floods, high winds, unusually hot weather, and electrical storms may also affect water production and delivery systems. At the same time, climatic variability is but one of a number of factors affecting urban water management in the region. Research into the sensitivity and vulnerability of urban water systems in Arizona reveals that managers are more concerned about factors such as population growth projections, economic trends, and revenue flows. Reliance on groundwater resources in many cases obscures recognition of any direct impact of precipitation on water supply. Some systems rely on multiple water sources and/or interconnections with other providers to address the risk that they may at some point not be able to serve customers’ needs. In other cases, water providers, especially many who rely on fossil groundwater that receives little recharge, do not perceive any link between climate and risk to their water supply. Given the low level of perceived climate risk among many providers interviewed for this study, it would seem unlikely that climate information would be needed. However, pockets of sensitivity and vulnerability to climatic impacts do exist in the four study areas covered in this study. Findings indicate that efforts to provide climate information may best be directed toward these particular providers. Whether the strong perceptions of invulnerability held by water managers hold up under a severe sustained drought remains to be tested.