EPA’s New Climate Change Strategy: You can Have a Say

By Alyssa Arcaya and Alexandre Remnek

Alyssa: As the Water Program Coordinator, I work on making sure we’re implementing the water-related portion of EPA’s Strategic Plan in Region 2.  Through this work, I’ve learned how EPA translates its broad strategic goals into concrete actions that help protect human health and the environment.  Because of this, I was especially interested to read EPA’s new strategy for managing water resources in the face of climate change: the National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change.  The draft strategy considers the impacts of climate change on water resources and serves as a roadmap for EPA’s future activities by exploring actions that the Agency should take to create a “climate ready” national water program.  It also helps our regional office determine the steps we need to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into our core programs and activities.

Alexi: While studying biogeochemistry at Cornell a decade ago, my work focused on watershed modeling. One of the challenges I faced was figuring out how to incorporate future environmental changes in our modeling and planning efforts.  Now, in my work as the Climate and Water Coordinator at EPA Region 2, I consider the ways that global climate change will impact EPA’s planning and regulatory work in our water programs.  Climate change has serious implications for water resources.  Warmer air and water temperatures can cause changes in precipitation patterns, increase evaporation and increase the frequency of more extreme weather events.  New York City is expected to receive more precipitation on average, some of which will reach us through more frequent storm events.  This means increased flooding, higher storm surge and erosion of beaches and coastal areas, which puts much of New York’s valuable infrastructure and development at risk.

The National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change presents key actions that can help New York City and the rest of the country understand and address the potential impacts of climate change on water resources.   The strategy addresses five core elements, including infrastructure, watersheds and wetlands, coastal and ocean waters, water quality and working with tribes to preserve and adapt their culture, natural resources and economies to climate change. More