The upcoming changes in the Northwest climate are being laid out in an increasing number of news items, from the warmth seeping into Oregon's Willamette area and threatening long-range wine production, to the legal and regulatory problems faced this year by southern Idaho's water users.
Our eye was caught as well, for Washington state, by this paragraph in Washington Senator Maria Cantwell's Monday email to constituents:
Last week, I chaired a Water and Power Subcommittee hearing on the impact of climate change on water supplies in western states. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, snowpack in the North Cascades has declined at nearly 75 percent of sites studied, and spring runoff occurs earlier each year across the state. As a result of decreasing water flows in the Columbia River Basin, we could see a 5 percent revenue loss for dams, totaling $166 million per year. The cost of offsetting the decline in guaranteed water for the City of Seattle alone could rise above $8 million per year by 2020, and other communities in the state could face similar problems. Our agriculture industry could also be hit hard.