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USGS in the News, 5/4/2004

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  • P. Neuman self only
    USGS in the News, 5/4/2004 Contributor: John Clemens ======================= 1. Our Opinion: Impending water crisis being ignored (Tucson Citizen (AZ)) 2.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2004
      USGS in the News, 5/4/2004

      Contributor: John Clemens
      1. Our Opinion: Impending water crisis being ignored (Tucson Citizen
      2. Quake damage study coming off the shelf (San Francisco
      Chron(SFGate.com) (CA))
      3. Human interference causes problems for cranes (St. Petersburg
      4. Looming Colorado River shortage forcing tough choices in the West
      (Environmental News Network (NAT))
      5. Quake could level 30,000 buildings (San Francisco Examiner (CA))
      6. Global warming threatens isle species (Honolulu Star Bulletin)
      1. Our Opinion: Impending water crisis being ignored (Tucson Citizen
      (AZ)), 5/4

      There is a disaster looming on the Colorado River - one that could
      sharply reduced water supplies for much of the West in coming
      years. And
      it is a disaster that has received scant attention from elected
      in the seven affected Western states.

      2. Quake damage study coming off the shelf (San Francisco Chronicle
      (SFGate.com) (CA)), 5/4

      By Kathy Hetter, Chronicle Staff Writer

      A shelved report predicting the loss of nearly 30,000 homes and $13. 7
      billion in damage in San Francisco after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake
      will be
      published by month's end, the city's Building Inspection Commission
      Monday. The commission will work with the study's author to resolve
      billing and content questions to get the information out to the
      commission president Rodrigo Santos said.


      3. Human interference causes problems for cranes (St. Petersburg
      (FL)), 5/4

      Eight whooping cranes are disoriented after humans in North Carolina
      them. They are now on the wrong side of Lake Michigan.

      By Amy Wimmer Schwarb, Times Staff Writer

      Humans likely got these birds into this mess. Now the question is:
      humans get them out of it? Eight whooping cranes, hatched in
      captivity one
      year ago and trying to migrate on their own for the first time, are
      on the east side of Lake Michigan.



      4. Looming Colorado River shortage forcing tough choices in the West
      (Environmental News Network (NAT)), 5/4

      By Seth Hettena, Associated Press

      GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona ? The Colorado River runs cold
      and fast
      through the Grand Canyon, a postcard picture of the water wealth that
      greens farms and slakes the thirst of booming cities. But there's a
      less to the Colorado than meets the eye. Five years ago, the vast
      reservoirs at both ends of the Grand Canyon were essentially full,
      with water for showers, kitchen sinks, irrigation, and ornamental



      5. Quake could level 30,000 buildings (San Francisco Examiner (CA)),

      By Associated Press

      A study commissioned and then shelved by San Francisco officials
      found The
      City would
      lose nearly 30,000 buildings and suffer hundreds of fatalities if a
      magnitude earthquake struck along the San Andreas Fault. The study
      Applied Technology Council of Redwood City found that nearly 70
      percent of
      the destroyed structures would be concentrated in residential areas
      such as
      the Richmond, Sunset and Twin Peaks neighborhoods, which have many
      wooden single-family homes and apartments.



      6. Global warming threatens isle species (Honolulu Star Bulletin),

      Experts warn climate shifts are harming coral and other life around

      By Jaymes Song, Associated Press

      Whale Skate Island in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands was a tiny dot
      of land
      in the vast Pacific, about 10 to 15 acres in size. It was covered with
      vegetation, nesting seabirds, Hawaiian monk seals and turtles laying
      It no longer exists. "That island in the course of 20 years has
      completely disappeared" with rising sea levels, said Beth Flint, a
      Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist for the Pacific Remote
      Refuges. "It washed away."



      home: Press Room > Press Releases > Press Release: Market and Non-
      Market Impacts From Climate Change


      For Immediate Release:
      April 28, 2004

      Contact: Katie Mandes

      Two New Reports Detail the Implications for the Economy and Natural
      Resources of the U.S.

      Washington, DC - Over the next century, global climate change is
      expected to have substantial consequences for the United States.
      While scientists continue to narrow remaining uncertainties about the
      magnitude and timing of future warming, these two new reports detail
      likely impacts on the U.S. economy, its diverse natural resources and
      the welfare of its citizens.

      The first report, A Synthesis of Potential Climate Change Impacts on
      the United States, by Joel Smith of Stratus Consulting Inc.,
      concludes a series of Pew Center reports examining the impacts of
      climate change on several economic sectors and natural resources in
      the United States. The companion report, U.S. Market Consequences of
      Global Climate Change, by a team of authors led by Dale Jorgenson of
      Harvard University and Richard Goettle of Northeastern University
      used analysis by Stratus Consulting based on the published literature
      to offer an in-depth analysis of the effects of climate change on the
      U.S. economy.

      These studies find that natural systems are more vulnerable to
      climate change than societal systems. Any species or ecosystem that
      is less able to adapt―for example, coral reefs, coastal wetlands,
      already endangered species, and alpine forests―is at the greatest
      risk. In contrast to natural systems, economic sectors that are
      managed- for example, forestry and agriculture- may be less
      vulnerable to the effects of climate change provided that timely and
      potentially substantial investments are made.

      The U.S. economy as a whole appears to be resilient to a gradual
      change in climate for a moderate increase in temperature (up to 2-
      4�C). For a range of scenarios of climate change and related
      impacts, the U.S. may experience a 0.7-1.0% gain (under optimistic
      assumptions), or a 0.6-3.0% loss (under pessimistic assumptions) in
      GDP by year 2100. However, the economic impact on individual sectors
      are far more pronounced.

      A critical finding in these reports is that as climate change
      continues past critical thresholds, any benefits diminish and,
      ultimately, reverse as the U.S. economy struggles to adapt to the
      changing climate. While some sectors may enjoy gains at low levels
      of warming (for example improvements in agriculture), beyond critical
      temperature thresholds, these benefits diminish and eventually become

      Just as with individual sectors, different U.S. regions will
      experience different impacts. The Southeast and the Southern Great
      Plains are at most risk due to their low-lying coasts and the impacts
      of warmer conditions on agriculture. Sectors with long-lived
      infrastructure and investments, such as water resources and coastal
      communities, will have the most difficulty adjusting.

      "What is important to keep in mind about these studies, said Eileen
      Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, "'is
      that ultimately all credible scenarios lead to negative impacts and
      costs. Taken together, these reports build the case that when it
      comes to climate change, policy inaction is costly―costly to
      certain =
      sectors and regions of our economy, and costly to our environment,"
      said Claussen. "And without near-term action to address climate
      change, the U.S. is likely to face the need for more expensive and
      dramatic measures in the future."


      Looming Colorado River shortage forcing tough choices in the West

      Tuesday, May 04, 2004
      By Seth Hettena, Associated Press

      GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona - The Colorado River runs cold
      and fast through the Grand Canyon, a postcard picture of the water
      wealth that greens farms and slakes the thirst of booming cities.

      But there's a lot less to the Colorado than meets the eye. Five years
      ago, the vast reservoirs at both ends of the Grand Canyon were
      essentially full, brimming with water for showers, kitchen sinks,
      irrigation, and ornamental fountains. Today, they are both half empty
      as drought in the region enters its fifth consecutive year, making
      this the driest five-year period on record.

      The river supplies water to 25 million people in seven states and
      more in Mexico.

      But with no end to the drought in sight, the Interior Department may
      be nearing the first declaration of a water shortage on the Colorado
      River, said Bennett Raley, the department's assistant secretary for
      water and science. Such a declaration would mean a cut in the amount
      of water that can be drawn from the river, Raley told reporters
      during a 224-mile rafting trip through the canyon in April.

      "If current trends continue ... the secretary would be forced to take
      action certainly within three years and potentially within two,"
      unless the states offer a solution, Raley said.

      The severity of the cut would be up to the interior secretary, but
      even a small reduction would ripple across the West. The 1,400-mile-
      long river grows U.S. and Mexican crops, generates electricity,
      supports a huge recreation industry, and delivers water to some of
      the nation's driest and hottest cities, including Phoenix and Las

      Drought is already doing what environmentalists could only dream
      about: It's draining Lake Powell, the reservoir just upriver from the
      Grand Canyon that submerged hundreds of miles of scenic canyons and
      countless archaeological sites.

      Powell is so low that hikers are beginning to explore glorious
      sandstone canyons once submerged under 100 feet of water. The lake
      has fallen to 42 percent of capacity, its lowest since it was filled
      in 1970. At the downstream end of the Grand Canyon is Lake Mead, the
      huge lake formed by Hoover Dam. It is at 59 percent of capacity and
      could reach the same state as Powell as early as 2008.

      Las Vegas is almost entirely dependent on Lake Mead for water and is
      worried about the effect continued drought could have on its
      explosive growth. The city is stressing conservation to avoid a self-
      imposed drought emergency, and water managers are ripping out water-
      guzzling lawns.

      In a shortage declaration, Arizona would be the first to suffer.
      Under a 36-year-old compromise the state now regrets, Arizona would
      lose all the Colorado River water that now goes to Phoenix, the
      nation's sixth-biggest city, before California would lose a single

      Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming are worried as well. Under a
      1922 accord they would be required to cut their own water to
      guarantee a supply to California, Arizona, and Nevada.

      While the states depend on a steady source of water, nature is
      anything but steady. A study of tree rings at the headwaters of the
      Colorado River found evidence of a drought as recently as the 16th
      century that lasted 20 years.

      In fact, tree rings have led scientists to believe that much of the
      past century was unusually wet and that more dry years could lie
      ahead, said Robert H. Webb, a hydrologist who studies the Grand
      Canyon for the U.S. Geological Survey and is co-author of "Floods,
      Drought, and Climate Change."

      "We have no idea how long this drought is going to last," Webb
      said. "Every indication says this one's gone beyond all our past

      Raley is pushing the states to do something unusual: share the water.
      The best chance of avoiding a shortage may lie in California, Nevada,
      and Arizona working together to help each other. One possibility is
      an interstate water bank in Lake Mead that the three states could

      However, when it comes to water, the states are more used to
      bickering than cooperating. Arizona and California waged legendary
      battles over the Colorado, including Arizona's comical effort to stop
      construction of a dam intended to divert water to Los Angeles by
      sending five soldiers to the river in 1934.

      During the rafting trip, Raley asked three water managers from
      Arizona, California, and Nevada what they would do, hypothetically,
      to prevent the interior secretary from declaring a shortage next
      year. As they discussed the problem, the age-old feud between
      California and Arizona flared again.

      "I'm not going to be looking to California to help me out. I'm not
      figuring Arizona's going to do much to help California until the
      reservoirs turn around," said Sid Wilson, general manager of the
      Central Arizona Project, the 336-mile concrete channel that carries
      Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson.

      However, Wilson did say that Arizona is trying to help Nevada.

      Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority,
      says she will have to turn to Arizona or California for help if the
      river continues to shrink. But Mulroy isn't optimistic.

      "All the legal mechanisms are set up for disaster," she said. "We
      can't seem to get the idea that if we share we get so much further."


      --------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Pat N self only <npat1@...>
      To: npat@...
      Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 11:18:50 GMT
      Subject: West's worries grow as lengthy drought settles in
      Message-ID: <20040505.041906.13281.82940@...>


      West's worries grow as lengthy drought settles in

      By Kirk Johnson
      and Dean E. Murphy The New York Times

      May 2, 2004

      PAGE, Ariz. � At five years and counting, the drought that has parched
      much of the West is getting much harder to shrug off as a blip.

      Those who worry most about the future of the West -- politicians,
      scientists, business leaders, city planners and environmentalists -- are
      increasingly realizing that a world of eternally blue skies and meager
      mountain snowpacks may not be a passing phenomenon but rather the return
      of a harsh climatic norm.

      Continuing research into drought cycles over the past 800 years bears
      this out, strongly suggesting that the relatively wet weather across much
      of the West during the 20th century was a fluke. In other words,
      scientists who study tree rings and ocean temperatures say, the
      development of the modern urbanized West -- one of the biggest growth
      spurts in the nation's history -- may have been based on a colossal

      That shift is shaking many assumptions about how the West is run.
      Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the
      states that depend on the Colorado River, are preparing for the
      possibility of water shortages for the first time since the Hoover Dam
      was built in the 1930s to control the river's flow. The top water
      official of the Bush administration, Bennett W. Raley, said recently that
      the federal government might step in if the states could not decide among
      themselves how to cope with dwindling supplies, a threat that riled local
      officials but underscored the growing urgency.

      "Before this drought, we had 20 years of a wet cycle and 20 years of the
      most growth ever," said John R. D'Antonio, the New Mexico state engineer,
      who is scrambling to find new water supplies for the suburbs of
      Albuquerque that did not exist a generation ago.

      The latest blow was paltry snowfall during March in the Rocky Mountains,
      pushing down runoff projections for the Colorado River this year to 55
      percent of average. Snowmelt is the lifeblood of the river, which
      provides municipal water from Denver to Los Angeles and irrigates
      millions of acres of farmland. The period since 1999 is now officially
      the driest in the 98 years of recorded history of the Colorado River,
      according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

      "March was a huge wake-up call as to the need to move at an accelerated
      pace," said Raley, assistant secretary of the interior for water and

      Some of the biggest water worries are focused here on Lake Powell, the
      vast blue diamond of deep water that government engineers created in one
      of the driest and most remote areas of the country beginning in the
      1950s. From its inception, Lake Powell, the nation's second-largest
      artificial lake, after Lake Mead in Nevada, was a powerful symbol across
      the West. Some saw it as a statement of human will and know-how, others
      of arrogance.

      Powell, part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, has lost nearly
      60 percent of its water and is now about the size it was in 1973, when it
      was still filling up. Part of the lake's problem, for example, dates to a
      miscalculation in 1922, when hydrologists overestimated the average flow
      of the Colorado River and locked the number into a multistate agreement
      called the Colorado River Compact. The compact, along with a subsequent
      treaty with Mexico, requires Lake Powell to release 8.23 million
      acre-feet of water each year below the river's dam, Glen Canyon, no
      matter how much comes in.

      Because the river's real average flow was less than the 1922 compact
      envisioned, Powell very often released more than half of the water the
      Colorado River delivered. But it did not really matter because the upper
      basin states were not using their share. Now, communities from Denver to
      Salt Lake City and American Indian tribes with old water rights in their
      portfolios are stepping forward to stake their claims. Lake Powell, which
      has been called the aquatic piggy bank of the upper West, is overdrawn.

      Many past Western droughts have ended suddenly, with a bang of
      precipitation. But some dry spells persisted for generations. From about
      900 to 1300, scientists say, periodic drought in the West was the norm.
      Only a few times during that period, according to tree-growth
      measurements, was precipitation anywhere near the relatively high levels
      of the 20th century.

      Copyright � 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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