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Planning for Idaho’s waterscapes: A review of historical drivers and outlook for the next 50 years

Water availability and use are increasingly critical factors determining the resilience and vulnerability of communities in the Western United States (US). Historical water availability and use in the state of Idaho is synthesized by considering the biophysical drivers of climate and surface runoff alongside human drivers of land-use, hydrologic engineering and state water management and policies.

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Abstract:

Water availability and use are increasingly critical factors determining the resilience and vulnerability of communities in the Western United States (US). Historical water availability and use in the state of Idaho is synthesized by considering the biophysical drivers of climate and surface runoff alongside human drivers of land-use, hydrologic engineering and state water management and policies. Idaho has not experienced chronic water scarcity in the last half century, particularly in comparison to neighboring states to the south. An outlook of water availability and use in Idaho for the next half century is developed that accounts for projected changes in population and climate. The magnitude of annual runoff is not expected to change substantially across much of Idaho, yet the timing of surface water availability is likely to change due to earlier snowmelt and reduced summer surface water availability. We posit that Idaho is well positioned to make institutional and policy decisions that secure its own water resources in the face of changing environmental conditions and resource-based water demands.

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Citation:

Kliskey, Andrew, Abatzoglou, John, Alessa, Lilian, Kolden, Crystal, Hoekema, David, Moore, Brandon, … Austin, Gary. (2019). Planning for Idaho’s waterscapes: A review of historical drivers and outlook for the next 50 years. Environmental Science & Policy94(C). doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2019.01.009