Implications of Water Use and Hydroclimatic Anomalies on the Freshwater Sustainability across the US Sunbelt

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Sankarasubramanian Arumugam1, John L Sabo2, Albert Ruhí2, Tushar Sinha3, John Stephen Kominoski4, Megan Hagler5, Kenneth Kunkel6, Emily Berglund7, Kelli Larson2 and Kumar Mahinthakumar1, (1)NC State Univ-Civil & Env Engr, Raleigh, NC, United States, (2)Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States, (3)Texas A & M University Kingsville, Kingsville, TX, United States, (4)Florida International University, Miami, FL, United States, (5)University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology, Athens, GA, United States, (6)CICS-NC/NCDC, Asheville, NC, United States, (7)North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, Raleigh, NC, United States
A synthesis on freshwater sustainability is investigated across the US Sunbelt. Spatio-temporal variability of potential drivers – hydroclimate and water use – influencing the freshwater sustainability are examined both individually as well as collectively by considering the eco-region and 4-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC-4)as the spatial reference for the analysis. A detailed analysis on national water use also indicates a north-south gradient with Frostbelt being more efficient in water use as opposed to the Sunbelt. This basically stems from the understanding of regional cross-differences in public supply consumption per capita which is significantly low in high-income urban counties. National analyses on agricultural water use efficiency (i.e., per-acreage application) also shows sprinkler irrigation and micro-irrigation being the primary drivers of differences in agricultural consumption. Given the well-known hydroclimatic west (arid)-east (humid) gradient across the Sunbelt, the study also evaluates the role of flow anomalies – represented by the changes in magnitude, frequency and timing of extremes (high flows and low flows) and by the changes in seasonality – in influencing native fish diversity patterns, as a proxy for freshwater biodiversity, in virgin basins and in basins influenced by significant storage and pumping. Cross-regional differences in water consumption during and after droughts are also presented in the context of adaptations and policy relevance.