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Water Quality and Quantity, Climate Change and Public Health Water Quality & Quantity Climate Change Training Module Minnesota Climate and Health Program Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Impacts Analysis Unit October 2012 625 Robert Street North PO Box 64975 St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
Notice MDH developed this presentation based on scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals. References for information can be found in the relevant slides and/or at the end of the presentation.
Learning Objectives • Importance of water in Minnesota • Climate changes in Minnesota • Public health issues related to: • Increases in water • Decreases in water • Increases in water temperature
IMPORTANCE OF WATER IN MINNESOTA • Water Sources • Water Cycle • Water Uses
Minnesota: A Land of Water • Surface water: 11,842 lakes greater than 10 acres and 63,000 miles of rivers and streams (NCDC 2006, University of Minnesota Water Resources Center 2011) • Groundwater:several aquifers across the state and approx-imately 400,000 drinking water wells (DNR, 2010; MDH, 2012) Source: University of Minnesota Water Resources Center 2011
Minnesota: A Land of Water • Has the most freshwater among the 48 lower states (University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, 2011) • At the head of four continental watersheds and is the headwaters and origin of three of the watersheds (DNR, 2000) 1 3 2 4 Source: DNR, 2000
Water in Minnesota • 99% of the water that comes into Minnesota is in the form of precipitation (University of Minnesota Water Resources Center 2011) • We control the quality & quantity of water we use and discard
Water in Minnesota Major air masses converging to MN • Three main air masses affect Minnesota’s weather: • Cold, dry, polar continental from the north • Dry, tropical continental westerlies • Warm, moist tropical maritime from the Gulf of Mexico 1 2 3
Hydrologic Cycle • The hydrologic cycle describes the continuous movement of water: • Evaporation to the atmosphere • Precipitation to the land • Infiltration to groundwater • Discharge to surface water • Changes in climate can alter the hydrologic cycle • Temperature affects water vapor which affects precipitation http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/watershed_tool/hydrology.html
Water Use • 19% water use comes from ground water and the remaining comes from surface water Total water use in MN from 1985 to 2010
Minnesota Drinking Water • 78% of Minnesotans rely on public drinking water which is largely from groundwater (~70%) • One million Minnesotans (22%) rely on private wells, which all use groundwater
Water is Key • Minnesota is rich in water resources • High quality, abundant water is essential to Minnesota economy, culture, future • Understanding the basic properties of the water cycle and the atmosphere is fundamental to understanding impacts of climate change on water
CLIMATE CHANGES IN MINNESOTA • Temperature • Dew point • Precipitation 14
Weather versus Climate • Weather: conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time • Climate: conditions of the atmosphere over long periods of time (30-year standard averaging period)
Climate Changes in Minnesota There have been three recent significant observed climate trends in Minnesota: • The average temperature is increasing • The average number of days with a high dew point may be increasing • The character of precipitation is changing
Temperature Changes Temperature has been rising in Minnesota.
Temperature Changes Three significant observations in this overall warming: • Winter temperatures have been rising about twice as fast as annual average temperatures • Minimum or 'overnight low' temperatures have been rising faster than the maximum temperature, or ‘daytime high’ • Since the early 1980s, the temperature has risen slightly over 1°F in southern Minnesota to a little over 2°F in much of the northern part of the state
Temperature and Ice Cover Lake Superior
Dew Point Changes • Dew point is a measure of water vapor in the air • The higher the dew point, the more difficult it is for people's sweat to evaporate, which is how they cool themselves • The number of days with high dew point temperatures (≥ 70 °F) may be increasing in Minnesota
Dew Point Changes Source: Dr. Mark Seeley, Climatologist, University of Minnesota
Precipitation Changes On average, the total precipitation in the state has increased since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.
Precipitation Changes • The character of precipitation in Minnesota is changing • More localized, heavy precipitation events • Potential to cause both increased flooding and drought
Public health issues related to: • Increases in water • Decreases in water • Increases in water temperature
Increases in Water Highway 169 between St. Peter and LeSueur • Precipitation Changes • Flooding • Humidity & Dew Point
Precipitation Changes More wintertime precipitation falls as rain rather than snow • This trend may increase risks of runoff and floods • Reduced snowpack may lead to lower water levels and drought in late summer (Karl et al. 2009) Changes in Snowfall Contributions to Wintertime Precipitation (1949 to 2005)
Precipitation Changes • Greatest increase in very heavy precipitation in the past 50 years occurred in the Northeast and the Midwest (Karl et al. 2009) • Total precipitation in the Midwest and Northeast is expected to increase the most with the largest increases in heavy precipitation events (Karl et al. 2009) Very heavy precipitation is defined as the heaviest 1 percent of all daily events from 1958 to 2007 for each region.
Public Health Issues - Precipitation Sewage overflows Increased runoff: sediment, contaminants, nitrate, etc. Contamination of surface and groundwater Extreme Precipitation Physical injuries and destruction of property Waterborne disease outbreaks from drinking water or recreational contact (beachgoers): Giardiasis, E coli, Cryptosporidium
Flooding • Flooding results from a combination of • Land use changes that reduce infiltration • Undersized sewer/stormwater pipes • Extreme precipitation and/or rapid snowmelt • Flood magnitude and frequency are likely to increase in most regions, and volumes of low flows are likely to decrease in many regions • (Field et al, 2007)
Flooding • 2012 Duluth/northeastern Minnesota 500-year flood event Photo credits: Rachel Agurkis (top), Derek Montgomery for MPR (right)
Public Health Issues - Flooding • Potential increases of: • physical injuries (including drowning) • allergies (mold) • food and water-borne illnesses • food security • displacement • mental health issues • interruption of emergency services (WHO, 2010) Oslo, MN, May 14, 2009 35 days after the Red River flooded
Public Health Issues - Flooding • Foodborne illnesses (e.g. Salmonellosis) • Increased risk from contamination of certain food crops with feces from nearby livestock or wild animals following heavy rain and flooding (Ebi et al, 2008; CCSP, 2008) • Waterborne illnesses • Caused by pathogens (e.g. Cryptosporidium and Giardia) which may increase following downpours • Can also be transmitted in drinking water and through recreational use (Ebi et al, 2008; CCSP, 2008)
Public Health Issues - Flooding 1993 Milwaukee Cryptosporidium Outbreak • 1.61 M people were affected; over 400,000 w/ significant symptoms; 100 people died • Median duration of illness was 9 days (range, 1 to 55) • Clinical manifestations included watery diarrhea (93%), abdominal cramps (84%), fever (57%), vomiting (48%) • $31.7 million in total medical costs and $64.6 million in total lost productivity
Public Health Issues - Flooding • Mental health: anxiety disorders, depression, psychological effects (Ebi et al. 2008)
Humidity/Dew Point Increase • Greater frequency of tropical-like atmospheric water vapor (Mark Seeley, 2012)
Humidity/Dew Point Increase • July 19, 2011: highest dew point temperature recorded ever in Minnesota 88°F dew point in Moorhead (combined with 93°F air temperature, it felt like 130°F) (State Climatology Office)
Heat Index The Heat Index (HI): calculation that describes how the air temperature and dew point are perceived the human body (Source: NWS, 2011b)
Public Health Issues – Humidity & Heat • Human health issues: • heat rash, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, death • Stressed livestock: • reduced milk production, reproduction problems, death • Algae blooms • Mold • Increased vector and microorganism populations
Decrease in Water Drought Lower water levels
Water Levels: Great Lakes • Average Great Lakes levels depends on the balance between precipitation and evaporation (Hayhoe et al. 2010)
Public Health Issues – Drought & Lower Water Levels • Reduced soil moisture reserves, groundwater supplies, lake and wetland levels, and stream flows • Potential concentration of pollutants • Decreasing water supply for drinking water and agriculture • Agriculture: adversely affects crop progress and soil moisture and therefore food supply • Wildfire dangers (e.g., Pagami Creek Fire, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – started August 18th 2011; 92,682 acres as of Oct. 13th 2011): injuries, property damage, anxiety, psychological effects
Increase in Water Temperature Changes in fish populations & mercury Algal blooms Reduced dissolved oxygen Incomplete mixing Increased vectors Invasive species/ northern expansion of organisms
Fish Populations & Mercury Conceptual diagram of climate warming effects on Minnesota fish communities • Warmer waters could harm fish populations and biological activity of cold aquatic ecosystems • Warmer waters and rainfall intensity may be contributing to an increase in mercury concentrations in fish Source: Peter Jacobson, DNR Fisheries Research Supervisor
Harmful Algal Blooms & Reduced Dissolved Oxygen • Increased pollution and temperatures can result in blooms of harmful algae and bacteria and reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen
Incomplete mixing Stratification • Longer periods of stratification (surface and water bottom don’t mix) may cause dead zones (low oxygen levels) and decrease self-purification capabilities of water features • May cause fish kills, poor water quality, increased insect populations, etc.
Increased vectors Climate change may contribute to the breeding of insects (e.g., mosquitoes) and may increase the risk of vector-borne diseases (e.g., West Nile virus)
Invasive species & northern expansion of organisms Invasive species Asian carp Zebra mussels Sea lamprey DNR Invasive Species website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index.html Expansion of disease-causing organisms Naegleriafowleri Many zebra mussels attached to a native mussel. Source: MN DNR
Public Health Strategies • Green infrastructure • Grey infrastructure • Emergency Preparedness • Individual Strategies
Green Infrastructure • Rely on natural processes: • Evaporation • Trees and plant cover • Infiltration • Rain gardens • Pervious pavers • Wetlands Above: Target Center Roof in Minneapolis Conservation Subdivision