Lisa Dilling receives new NOAA SARP award

"Evaluating adaptive policies for urban water resource management: Interactions between short-term drought responses and long-term climate change adaptation strategies"


Lisa Dilling, W. Travis, R. Klein, D. Kenney (all at CU Boulder), O. Wilhelmi (NCAR), K. Miller (NCAR), A. Ray (NOAA)

Funded by the NOAA SARP program (Sectoral Applications Research Program)


Municipalities have responded in various ways to past droughts, enacting a variety of policies to cope with temporary reductions in water supply. These measures have been largely successful at constraining the per capita consumption of water even as population grows. Now, though, water systems also face the likelihood of long-term climate change, raising a fundamental question: whether policies put in place to reduce vulnerabilities in the short-term might in fact increase vulnerability to longer-term climate change (and vice versa). We propose to examine through detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of selected municipal water systems how drought policies interact with both short-term drought and long-term climate change. Does adjustment today or in the past lead to more resilient systems across climate time scales? As a corollary, we hypothesize that the more effective a policy becomes in terms of increasing water use efficiency, the more reliant the system becomes on accurate information. We will thus also examine how more efficient and/or flexible water use may increase the need for, and value of, weather and climate information and technology. Our proposal will take a unique interdisciplinary approach to tackling these questions by including investigators from the natural hazards community, the climate adaptation community, experts in the use of climate information, and the water resource and policy community. We will also work in tandem with an Advisory Working Group of stakeholders from the water management and urban adaptation community to ensure that our work is relevant in this rapidly evolving context. The proposed work includes conducting a literature review of the vulnerability and drought management literatures, developing indicators for urban water system vulnerability with respect to climate change, and conducting three in depth case studies of urban water systems to evaluate changing vulnerabilities with specific drought policies. Work will be published in peer-review journals as well as shared with multiple audiences at water management workshops and other stakeholder venues.