Fourth National Climate Assessment

NCA4 Web Site

Changes in Water Quantity and Quality

Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country. These changes, which are expected to persist, present an ongoing risk to coupled human and natural systems and related ecosystem services. Variable precipitation and rising temperature are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, and reducing snowpack. Reduced snow-to-rain ratios are leading to significant differences between the timing of water supply and demand. Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk. Surface water quality is declining as water temperature increases and more frequent high-intensity rainfall events mobilize pollutants such as sediments and nutrients.