Meeting on climate change and NYC water supply

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New York State's Division of Watershed Water Quality Science and Research in the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation convened a meeting of scientists to review the “Climate Change Integrated Modeling Project – Phase I:  Assessment of Impacts on the New York City Water Supply.”  The meeting was held on September 18-19, at the Ashokan Center, near one of the major NYC water supply reservoirs, the Ashokan Reservoir.   NE CSC University Director, Richard Palmer, and Dr. Radley Horton, PI of the NE CSC at Columbia University attended the meeting.  
The report under review describes the first phase of the Climate Change Integrated Modeling Project (CCIMP) to evaluate the effects of future climate change on the quantity and quality of water in the NYC water supply. The project is an element of DEP’s Climate Change Action Plan released in 2008. The CCIMP is designed to address three issues of concern to NYC: (1) overall quantity of water in the entire water supply; (2) turbidity in the Catskill System of reservoirs, including Kensico; and (3) eutrophication in Delaware System reservoirs.  In CCIMP Phase I an initial estimate of climate change impacts was made using available GCM data sets and DEP’s present suite of watershed, reservoir and system operation models.  Phase I focuses on water quantity in the West of Hudson (WOH) System, turbidity in the Schoharie  Reservoir and eutrophication in the Cannonsville Reservoir. An important component of Phase I is the development of methodologies and tools for linking models and data. These tools will be needed in further studies as we proceed into Phase II of the project.
Attendees provided comments on the document, which outlines plans for how NYC can best cope with the impacts of climate change on water supply and water quality within their water supply basins.  Among the most important impacts is high turbidity levels in the reservoir system that result from intense storm events that carry natural runoff into the reservoirs.  Under future climate change, the turbidity levels are expected to increase.