NRDC Report: 29 States Unprepared for Growing Water Threats to Economy, Health

State-by-state analysis examines climate change preparedness levels in all 50 states, revealing nation’s best and worst

Only nine states have taken comprehensive steps to address their vulnerabilities to the water-related impacts of climate change, while 29 states are unprepared for growing water threats to their economies and public health, according to a first-ever detailed state-by-state analysis of water readiness released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The new NRDC report, “Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning,” outlines four preparedness categories to differentiate between the nine states with comprehensive adaptation plans (including California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), from those states that are least prepared (including Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia and Texas).

NRDC’s report focuses on how state governments across the nation are planning and preparing for the water-related impacts of climate change. These impacts include more severe and frequent storms, intense rainfall, sea-level rise, warmer water temperatures and drought events.

Key findings include:

* Nearly nine out of 10 states are poised for more frequent and intense storm events and/or increased flooding.
* While at least 36 states are facing possible water supply challenges, only six of those have comprehensive adaptation plans.
* The majority of states––29 or nearly 60%­­––have done either nothing at all or very little to prepare for water-related climate impacts.
* Six states––Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota––have done virtually nothing to address climate pollution or prepare for climate change in the face of growing water risks.
* Water preparedness activities appear to have “slowed or stalled” in four of the nine best-prepared states––Alaska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
* Only 22 states have developed plans and formally adopted targets or goals to cut the pollution that causes climate change, which comes mainly from power plants and vehicles.

There are proactive steps states can take to minimize the impact on communities increasingly vulnerable to climate-induced changes. NRDC encourages all states to undertake the following key actions:

* Enact plans to cut emissions from power plants, vehicles and other major sources of heat-trapping pollution, coupled with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
* Conduct a statewide vulnerability assessment to determine potential climate change impacts.
* Develop a comprehensive adaptation plan to address climate risks in all relevant sectors.
* Prioritize and support implementation of the adaptation plan.
* Measure progress regularly and update the adaptation plan as needed.

Click here for the blog to learn the states’ rankings and read the report.

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