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The White House
For Immediate Release

Council on Environmental Quality Releases Draft Plan to Protect Water Quality and Availability from Climate Change

Recognizing that a changing climate will affect the quality and availability of the Nation's water resources, the Council on Environmental Quality today released a draft Action Plan to help Federal agencies assure adequate water supplies, safeguard water quality, and protect public health and property.  The draft Action Plan will be available for 45 days of public comment to allow the public to provide input and feedback before it is finalized. 

The Draft National Action Plan for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate recommends Federal agency actions to aid freshwater resource managers in managing and protecting the Nation’s water resources.  It also outlines ways in which Federal agencies can support state, local and tribal governments in their water resources planning by improving access to quality data and information and best practices. The draft Action Plan responds to a 2010 report from the Obama Administration's interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force that identified freshwater resources planning as a priority.

"American communities rely on freshwater resources for drinking water, farming, energy production, and a host of activities that directly affect the health of our families and our economy.  The quality and availability of our water resources is vulnerable to significant impacts from a changing climate, demanding smart planning to safeguard these critical resources," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. "By ensuring Federal agencies and state and local partners have the tools they need to assess and plan for risks to water resources and infrastructure, we are protecting our assets across the country so that they can continue to meet the needs of American communities."

The U.S. Global Change Research Program has identified several major impacts of a changing climate on the Nation’s freshwater resources, including rising water temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and increasing intensity of rain and storm events. These changes are predicted to result in on-the-ground impacts on communities' water supplies.  For example, rising sea levels are expected to degrade coastal groundwater resources and flood water treatment facilities, threatening the health, safety and economic viability of communities.

Government agencies and citizens should collaboratively manage freshwater resources in response to a changing climate in order to assure adequate water supplies, protect human life, health and property, and protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems.  To accomplish that goal, the draft Action Plan identifies specific actions Federal agencies should take, including: 

  • Establish a planning process to adapt water resources management to a changing climate that includes better coordinating Federal agencies and maintaining strong engagement with state, local and tribal governments, stakeholders and the public.
  • Improve the quality of water resources and climate change information available to decision-makers.
  • Expand the use of water efficiency practices and technologies.
  • Develop a toolbox of the most effective freshwater conservation practices to help state and local officials and facility managers identify and adopt these practices.
  • Develop a pilot climate change vulnerability index for a major category of water facilities, such as drinking water systems, to help facility managers prioritize their adaptation responses. 
  • Develop a “one stop” internet portal for up-to-date data and information on water resources and climate change.

The draft Action Plan also encourages state, tribal and local governments to continue their leadership in developing and implementing climate adaptation plans, and provides information and best practices to support their work. 

About the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force
The interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force is co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  As called for by President Obama in Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, the Task Force released recommendations the President in October 2010 outlining actions the Federal Government should take to expand and strengthen the Nation’s capacity to better understand and manage climate-related risks.

To read the Draft National Action Plan for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate and to submit comments, please visit: