By South Florida Business Journal

Florida is among those states with the greatest risk of facing water shortages in the coming years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report, conducted for NRDC by Tetra Tech, found that 14 states face an extreme or high risk to water sustainability, or are likely to see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050.

The report used publicly available water use data across the U.S. and climate projections from a set of models used by the United Nationsâ¿¿ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to the report:

  • More than 1,100 U.S. counties â¿¿ more than one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states â¿¿ face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming, and more than 400 of these counties will be at extremely high risk for water shortages.
  • The states with greatest risk are in the Southwest and Great Plains. Those with some risk are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
  • While detailed modeling of climate change impacts on crop production was beyond the scope of the Tetra Tech analysis, the potential scale of disruption is reflected based on the value of the crops produced in the 1,100 at-risk counties.

In 2007, the value of the crops produced in the at-risk counties identified in the report exceeded $105 billion. A separate study compared the Tetra Tech data with county-level crop production data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Click here to see state-specific fact sheets outlining the potential agricultural impacts.

⿿This analysis shows climate change will take a serious toll on water supplies throughout the country in the coming decades,⿝ said Dan Lashof, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center, in a news release. "Water shortages can strangle economic development and agricultural production" in affected communities.

He called for Congress "to pass meaningful legislation that cuts global warming pollution and allows the U.S. to exercise global leadership on the issue."

The news release said water withdrawal is expected to grow by 25 percent in many areas of the U.S., including the arid Arizona/New Mexico area; the populated areas in the South Atlantic region; Florida; the Mississippi River basin; and Washington, D.C., and surrounding regions.

Click here for a summary of the report and related links.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010