According to experts, the island nations of the Caribbean could see a double blow to their freshwater supplies thanks to climate change. Shifting rainfall patterns may not replenish the countries’ underground water reservoirs as in the past, and rising sea levels threaten to contaminate those same supplies with salt water.
Scientists and officials gathered at the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia this past week for a conference entitled “Climate Change, Tourism and Agriculture — Strategies and innovations for adaptation.” But they also took the opportunity to expand beyond climate change’s implications for those two industries, taking on its impact for freshwater supplies across then Caribbean.
Many countries in the region rely exclusively on underground water for their drinking supplies, reports the Associated Press. And as climate change alters weather patterns, it can diminish the pace at which those supplies are refilled. “When you look at the projected impact of climate change, a lot of the impact is going to be felt through water,” said Avril Alexander, Caribbean coordinator for the nonprofit Global Water Partnership. And the intense rainfall that’s hit the region recently may not help. Heavy rains and deluges actually decrease the amount of time the water has to seep into the ground before running off. They also drive up purification costs and can force water treatment systems to temporarily close down to protect against contamination.
This problem isn’t limited to the Caribbean. Climate change is threatening to upend already-strained water supplies of many U.S. states, including Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The Colorado River is frighteningly low, as are many U.S. reservoirs, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi River. The glaciers that supply freshwater for many South American cities and communities are in historic retreat. And tapped-out water supplies even threaten the ability of many major industries — especially the energy industry — to keep functioning at capacity.
For the complete article, please see ClimateProgress.