Managing Freshwater In A Changing Climate

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In the face of the many, and sometimes uncertain, impacts on freshwater resources outlined above, water managers face a variety of challenges. For example, new infrastructure construction (e.g., large dams) is expected to be limited, so water managers will have to develop and implement approaches to increase the efficiency of water use (Gleick, 2003a,b). On the other hand, existing water infrastructure (e.g., reservoirs, conveyer pipes, sewage lines, and treatment plants) will need to be maintained and upgraded, which offers opportunities for taking account of current and projected impacts of climate change (e.g., ASCE, 2009; EPA, 2008; King County, 2008). Projections of freshwater supply as well as climate change impacts on water infrastructure itself are uncertain, so water managers will need more information about risks and about managing water in the face of uncertainty (Beller-Simms et al., 2008; CDWR, 2008; Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, 2007; EPA, 2008; Wilby et al., 2009). In addition to tools and models that expand their range of response options, managers and policy makers will need governance flexibility in order to increase adaptive capacity and resilience in water systems (Adger et al., 2007; Huitema et al., 2009; Zimmerman et al., 2008).

Two options for dealing with these challenges are governance frameworks such as Integrated Water Resources Management and adaptive management. Integrated Water Resources Management often involves reforming broader institutional structures of water governance including decentralization, integration, participatory/collaborative management, and social learning. Adaptive management involves organizational and management processes that maintain flexibility (see Box 3.1). While these frameworks could increase the adaptive capacity of freshwater management, there is still a need for more information about water institutions and governance structures and how they affect human and institutional behavior (Engle and Lemos, 2010; Huitema et al., 2009; Norman and Bakker, 2009; Urwin and Jordan, 2008).

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