Conservation Science Webinar Series

Conservation Science

The National Conservation Training Center's Conservation Science Webinar Series attempts to cut through the spin and rhetoric by providing the science behind conservation issues in the news.

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Date: February 11, 2015
Time: 2:00-3:00PM ET

The context of freshwater availability: Interrelations among water, climate, and energy

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Archive: If you are unable to attend this webinar, it will be recorded and posted on the Conservation Science Webinar Series Archive approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation.
Presenter: Dr. James Meldrum, Institute of Behavioral Science, Western Water Assessment, University of Colorado Boulder

The amount of freshwater available for ecological processes is a function of human decisions about water resources. Climate, energy, and water are fundamentally linked such that shifts in one sector have cascading impacts on the others. For example, in the Southwestern U.S., a naturally arid system, water availability is declining as a consequence of climate change finche headsand population growth. Adaptations by the water sector to convey, store, and develop new water sources (e.g. desalination, groundwater pumping, water-reuse) are designed to enhance the sector's sustainability. However, west wide, approximately 20% of total electricity generation goes toward supplying and heating water. If future investments made by the water sector continue to follow current trends, the dependence of water on energy availability will grow, meaning that the water supply will be increasingly reliant on the electricity system.

This presentation is about the larger context of water availability in the United States and the interactions among water resources, climate change, and energy. We will start by discussing the main ways that people currently use water and the implications these have for water stress and its spatial distribution across the conterminous US. We then look forward, where consideration of the integrated climate-energy-water system becomes necessary to fully understand the individual risk profile of each sector. This webinar is targeted toward improving understanding of such interactions and their potential impacts on future water availability.


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Marilyn Williams, Training Technician, Conservation Science and Policy Branch, National Conservation Training Center at 304-876-7940; e-mail


Matthew Patterson, Course Leader, Conservation Science and Policy Branch, National Conservation Training Center at 304-876-7473; e-mail