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Vulnerability of U.S. water supply to shortage May 5

May 3, 2010

What is the outlook for water supplies in the U.S., given that population and income growth will place additional demands on water supplies and that climatic change is increasing hydrologic uncertainty? Find out at a talk to be held Wednesday, May 5, titled, 'Current and future vulnerability of U.S. water supply to shortage.'

Wednesday, May 5
Noon-1 p.m.
Lory Student Center
Room 210

Will there be enough water?

Romano Foti, a Ph.D. candidate in the Colorado State University hydrologic science program, will speak on Wednesday, May 5 at noon in the Lory Student Center, Room 210, on the "Current and future vulnerability of the U.S. water supplies to shortage." 

Climatic change/population growth

Off-stream water use in the United States has been increasing over the past decades in response to population and economic growth. Complicating the picture, climatic change is increasing hydrologic uncertainty and, although water use efficiency has been improving in recent years, expected future population and income growth will place additional demands on water supplies.

Taken together, these forces are making careful water management ever more important and call for a realistic broad-scale understanding of the vulnerability of our water supply to shortage. This study aims to provide that understanding within the boundary of the U.S.

Supply and demand

Fresh water contribution is estimated as precipitation minus evapotranspiration for each point in a grid covering the study area, and then allocated in major river basins wherein available water supply is compared with a threshold quantity of required water use.

Effects of storage and transbasin diversions are also considered. Precipitation and evapotranspiration being stochastic processes, fresh water contribution is described by a cumulative probability distribution function (CDF), yielding a corresponding CDF of water available to meet demand.

The probability of shortage

Shortage occurs when available supply is insufficient to meet the use threshold. The CDF of available water, when compared with the threshold, yields an estimate of the probability of shortage, and thus a measure of the vulnerability of the water supply system.

The comparison of water supply to the water use threshold is performed for both current conditions and for possible future conditions reflecting population and economic growth as well as a changing climate. Examination of future scenarios provides a measure of the extent to which serious future risks of water shortage must be anticipated.

Speaker biography

Romano Foti received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from the "Universita' degli Studi di Catania" (2005) and the "Scuola Superiore di Catania per la Formazione di Eccellenza" (2006) in Catania, Italy.

His research interests are primarily focused on developing physically based models to describe water dynamics across the land-atmosphere interface and their impact on soil moisture and vegetation. He is currently working on a project sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service to assess the vulnerability of U.S. water supplies to water shortage and climatic changes.

This program is being sponsored by the Colorado State University Colorado Institute of Water.

Contact: Reagan Waskom
Phone: (970) 491-5821