NCEAS Project 12444

Human impacts of water infrastructure on watershed ecosystems and the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the coterminous US

  • John L. Sabo
  • Laura C. Bowling
  • Gerrit H. Schoups

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group27th—29th June 2011Participant List  
Working Group8th—9th October 2011Participant List  
Working Group10th—13th December 2011Participant List  
Working Group20th—23rd June 2012Participant List  
Working Group9th—11th April 2013Participant List  

The goal of the proposed working group is twofold: 1) to measure the ecological footprint of freshwater infrastructure in the US (e.g., dams, irrigated agriculture, growing urban centers), and 2) to identify sustainable solutions to potential water shortages given climate change and rapid growth of major US urban areas. The underlying approach includes synthesis of numerous publicly available datasets describing surface and groundwater hydrology, human population growth, agriculture, economics and ecology. The approach also includes a novel analysis in which we will apply macroscale hydrologic models and IPCC climate forecasts to provide sustainable solutions to water shortages that consider water for cities, farms and biodiversity. The group hopes to publish 2‐3 high impact papers prior to the 25th anniversary of Cadillac Desert: The American West and its disappearing water (Reisner 1986, Penguin Press) in 2011. The activities will culminate in a final workshop in which noted popular press authors and policy makers are invited to write an op‐ed piece to be submitted to the NY Times. This popular press article will comment on the state of US freshwater infrastructure then (based on Cadillac Desert) and now (based on our scientific work), and propose a policy platform for freshwater sustainability in the US.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Graf, William L.; Wohl, Ellen E.; Sinha, Tushar; Sabo, John L. 2010. Sedimentation and sustainability of western American reservoirs. Water Resources Research. Vol: 46. Pages 1-13. (Online version)
Journal Article Sabo, John L.; Sinha, Tushar; Bowling, Laura C.; Schoups, Gerrit H.; Wallender, Wesley W.; Campana, Michael E.; Cherkauer, Kieth A.; Fuller, Pam L.; Graf, William L.; Hopmans, Jan W.; Kominoski, John S.; Taylor, Carissa; Trimble, Stanley W.; Webb, Robert H.; Wohl, Ellen E. 2010. Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature: Reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert. Vol: 107. Pages 21263-21269. (Online version)