Summer 2015

Adaptation in the Water Sector: Science & Institutions

Katharine L. Jacobs and Lester Snow

Water management activities involve a complex and interconnected web of science, infrastructure considerations, societal expectations, and institutional limitations that has evolved over time. Much of the water management system's current complexity developed in response to the interests of local water users and land owners, historical water supply and demand issues, political demands, and water quality and environmental considerations. Climate change poses a new set of questions for water managers and may require more flexible solutions than those that have evolved historically. Although the implications of changes in the climate on water supply and demand are recognized (if not well quantified), ongoing changes in temperature and precipitation, as well as the linkages between environmental and societal factors, lead to major uncertainties in future conditions. New tools, techniques, and institutions will be needed to sustain water supplies for communities and watersheds in the future.

KATHARINE L. JACOBS is the Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions and Professor of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona. Previously, she served as Director of National Climate Assessment and Water Advisor in the Executive Office of the President. From 2006–2009, Jacobs was the Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute. She has more than twenty years of experience as a water manager for the State of Arizona. Her research has been published in such journals as Nature Climate Change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Water Resources Research, and Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

LESTER SNOW is the Executive Director of the California Water Foundation. He recently served as the California Secretary for Natural Resources. Previously, he was Director of the California Department of Water Resources, Regional Director of the Bureau of Reclamation, and Executive Director of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.

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