Massachusetts’ Climate Change Adaptation Report was issued in Sept. 2011. This important report brings home the expected impacts of climate disruption and describes actions our communities need to take to protect all sectors of our economy, including water resources. While we are now more aware of the danger of extreme events, like hurricanes, the more subtle impacts of climate disruption are less visible and easily ignored. Increasingly intense rainfall brings more pollution into our streams, ponds and rivers, eroding soil, carrying pollutants, and overwhelming sewage treatment facilities.
But ironically more intense rainfall also makes droughts worse. Heavy rainfall doesn’t soak into the ground, and so the rain that falls is quickly swept out to sea, flooding our communities on its way. Then the water is gone. This is a clear and present threat to our drinking water supplies and wildlife. Increasing temperatures further stress aquatic life—particularly fish—and water quality for boating and swimming. This degrades the recreational use of our rivers.
There are several actions local governments can take right now:
• require new developments to reuse stormwater and wastewater and discharge treated wastewater into the ground rather than into our rivers and streams,
• regulate the use of private wells so that users meet the same water conservation standards that the rest of the public does,
• extend wider no-disturb zones to protect intermittent streams, small streams and coldwater streams, and
• adopt floodplain no-build zones that reflect the expected 100-year floods rather than outdated flood levels.
Adaptation to Climate Disruption (OARS 2013 Water Forum)