Did you miss #WorldWaterDay on Tuesday, March 22nd? Did you even know World Water Day was a thing? As an acknowledgement to the importance of and attention needed towards the care and preservation of water, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22nd as World Water Day back in 1992. Because water is the biological world’s most necessary natural resource, being able to track changes and plan for future needs in an intuitive and easy-to-understand way is paramount. This is where GIS can help.
As temperatures and drought increase globally, so does the risk of coastal flooding. Because of this, it is important to be able to track where where water is going and forecast what would happen in the event of an influx of water. GIS maps of large coastal cities, such as New York City, help visualize areas where future disasters could occur. This information allows cities to take actions to protect infrastructure, enhance stormwater management, and prepare residents for emergent floods.
As the planet warms, river and lake water quality will experience large-scale ecological degradation. Because the Chesapeake Bay area’s economy has a large stake in fisheries and other coastal enterprises, the area will be highly affected by agricultural and urban activity in the furthest extent of the watershed. With the use of GIS mapping, residents and lawmakers alike can visualize which areas have clean water and which areas are in need of help. With this information, the need for reduction of sediment, nutrient, and contaminant loads becomes much more obvious, prompting quality assessments and climate resilient strategies aimed to protect runoff and groundwater quality.
Across America, the heightening of temperatures will result in ripple effects, allowing for more wildfires, water shortages, and increase in droughts. Managing water resources will prove to be imperative to America’s ability to be resilient in the face of climate change. With the utilization of national GIS mapping of watersheds, Americans are empowered to work together in areas at a higher risk for negative effects, using approaches like domestic water conservation programs, flexible reservoir operations, and more efficient water use monitoring.