The Greenfield Notebook

UF Miami-Dade County Extension serving Ornamental Production Industry

Water availability in Miami and 224 urban areas in the US January 30, 2013

Filed under: Education — Vanessa @ 8:24 pm
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Water availability in Miami and other 224 urban areas in the United Sates

Water issues are becoming more and more important to all of us. Especially in bigger cities like Miami.

Jim Jawitz, a UF soil and water science professor, and Julie Padowski, who earned her doctoral degree from UF surveyed big cities and found that 47 percent of the total U.S. population is vulnerable to water scarcity issues, however, when infrastructure was accounted for, the number dropped to just 17 percent of the population. Residents in the top 225 metropolitan areas make up the bulk of the U.S. population.

Jawitz, a faculty member with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said they expected to find fewer areas vulnerable to water shortages than past studies had because of the different methodology, but some of their findings surprised them.

“We have people who live in the desert and they have water and it’s because of their infrastructure. If you live in a city that has a large of reservoir of water stored and there’s a drought, it doesn’t have the same effect on you as if you live in a city where there’s a drought and you don’t have a large reservoir,” he said.

 

They didn’t expect Atlanta – where legal battles over water rights with neighboring states initially prompted the researchers to tackle the survey – to fall near the middle among the 225 cities they studied for water access and vulnerability.

 

Another unusual finding: Miami, with its lush, tropical landscape, landing in the top 10 most vulnerable cities. Jawitz, a South Florida native, said although the Miami area generally enjoys an abundance of rain, it’s not stored anywhere. That means during periods of drought, the area becomes vulnerable.

Urban areas of population greater than 100,000 are ranked by fresh water availability based on liters per person per day.

“As population growth increases, we don’t have more resources to tap – we can’t just find another lake or another river to dam,” she said. “It’s going to come down to sharing, conservation and efficiency.”

For more detailed information go to:

Padowski, J. C., and J. W. Jawitz, 2012. Water availability and vulnerability of 225 large cities in the United States, Water Resources Research, 48, W12529, doi:10.1029/2012WR012335.

Or go to : UF hydrology and cities

 

 

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