Water Quality and Groundwater Supplies May Be Affected

Some regions of the United States rely on groundwater for drinking, residential use, or agriculture. The impacts of climate change on groundwater are far from clear; in fact, little research effort has been devoted to this topic. Changes in precipitation and evaporation patterns, plant growth processes, and incursions of sea water into coastal aquifers as sea levels rise will all affect the rate of groundwater recharge, the absolute volume of groundwater available, groundwater quality, and the physical connection between surface and groundwater bodies.

Increased temperatures generally have a negative impact on water quality in lakes and rivers, typically by stimulating growth of nuisance algae. Changes in heavy precipitation, runoff, and stream flow can also be expected to have an impact on a diverse set of water quality variables. Water quality will also be affected by saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers as sea levels rise. In general, the water quality implications of climate change are even less understood than impacts on water supply.

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