The Western Water Assessment (WWA), a NOAA CAP/RISA team, and the Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) funded work for the new publication, “The role of adaptive capacity in incremental and transformative adaptation in three large U.S. Urban water systems.” SARP funded this work specifically through the Coping with Drought (CWD) initiative that supported research projects that advance state-of-the-art drought planning—including scientific analyses of drought events, outlooks and risk assessments, management best practices, and addressing socioeconomic and institutional challenges.
The research used comparative case studies of three large U.S. water systems: Austin Water serving Austin, TX, the Southern Nevada Water Authority serving Las Vegas, Nevada and surrounding areas, and Tampa Bay Water serving the Tampa Bay region in Florida in 2012-2013. The goal of this research is to understand how incremental adaptation (marginal changes) to drought events affects adaptive capacity for future climate change and if these actions provide the preconditions to facilitate transformative adaptation (fundamental system shifts). The authors conducted interviews focusing on the drought response in each water provider organization. Interviewees include those directly involved in management systems, indirectly involved in system management decisions, or had a stake in system management. They found that while there is evidence of existing and potential adaptive capacity, it can be enabled or diminished by specific actions taken by system management. Changes in practice during drought combined with sustained engagement, collaboration, and education can lead to long-lasting changes in values around water leading to transformative adaptation.
For more information, contact Jessica Garrison.
Image credit: Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent