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Assessing Climate-Related Risk and Adaptation Options for Water Suppliers along the Oregon Coast

Project Status

On the Oregon Coast, water providers generally serve small populations (less than 5,000 people). These providers rely on surface water supply from coastal drainages that are rain-dominated, with limited available capacity from reservoirs, snowpack, or groundwater. Despite normally heavy winter rains, coastal communities are vulnerable to water shortages in late summer and during droughts. Potential climate change impacts to surface water supplies and the increased likelihood of drought may have adverse effects on the already struggling economy of the coast and may constrain potential economic development activities, while competition for surface water between human use and instream needs (fish and wildlife, recreation) will increase pressure on ESA-listed and NOAA trust species.

The goal of this project is to identify the economic impacts of drought on water delivery and evaluate adaptation measures for mitigating the risk of water shortage in representative communities in Lincoln County, Oregon, under future climate scenarios. The team plans to address the following questions: (1) What is the probability of water shortage with climate change over the next 50 years? (2) What are the associated risks to water suppliers/municipalities of water shortage? (3) What adaptation measures can help municipalities both prepare for and respond to water shortages in order to minimize this risk?

To answer these questions, the project team will build a Water Management Economic Assessment model using existing water supply, pricing, and consumption data integrated with climate change projections. The model will simulate the impact of future water shortages and demonstrate tradeoffs between multiple potential adaptation measures (e.g., storage investments, conservation rebate programs, new pricing models). 

General Location
Specific Location
Pacific Northwest
Key Partners
Oregon State University
Oregon Water Resources Department
Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership
Water Utilities
DEWS Components
Prediction & Forecasting