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Report: States Not Prepared for Water Scarcity

A majority of states, including many deeply involved in shale development, are not preparing for the ways a changing climate might impact future water supplies, according to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"Each state is vulnerable to a unique set of water-related threats...Some states may suffer a curse of too much water, some a curse of too little," Steve Fleischli, director of NRDC's water and climate program, said Thursday for the release of "Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning."

The report is primarily concerned with how states plan to reduce their emissions, but it also presents the most likely water-related problems for states. The report groups states into four categories: those with a comprehensive adaptation plan; those with fragmented plans; those with limited plans; and those without any plans at all. In shale country, Appalachia ranked high, but the Midcontinent and Rockies ranked low.

In the Marcellus and Utica shales, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland have comprehensive plans in place to manage changes in water supplies, but the report notes implementation is as crucial as planning. West Virginia hasn't done much planning, and Ohio ranked among the bottom states, one of 12 without any plan. The report projects that Pennsylvania and New York could see increased rainfall.

In the Barnett, Fayetteville and Haynesville shales, Texas and Arkansas have no plans in place, while Louisiana has limited planning. The authors of the report took Texas to task for basing its water plans on a 1950 drought instead of more recent droughts, and for not acknowledging the water scarcity projected by some climate scientists.

Out West, the report gave high marks to Colorado for its planning but ranked North Dakota and Utah among the states without any plans in place. The report forecasts that the region will face water supply issues in the future due to climate change.

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