Water Resources Management

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1477–1497 | Cite as

Quantifying the Urban Water Supply Impacts of Climate Change

  • Jeffrey K. O’Hara
  • Konstantine P. Georgakakos


The difference in timing between water supply and urban water demand necessitates water storage. Existing reservoirs were designed based upon hydrologic data from a given historical period, and, given recent evidence for climatic change, may be insufficient to meet demand under future climate change scenarios. The focus of this study is to present a generally applicable methodology to assess the ability of existing storage to meet urban water demand under present and projected future climatic scenarios, and to determine the effectiveness of storage capacity expansions. Uncertainties in climatic forcing and projected demand scenarios are considered explicitly by the models. The reservoir system in San Diego, California is used as a case study. We find that the climate change scenarios will be more costly to the city than scenarios using historical hydrologic parameters. The magnitude of the expected costs and the optimal investment policy are sensitive to projected population growth and the accuracy to which our model can predict spills.


Climate change adaptation Reservoir storage expansion Urban water reliability Land surface hydrology Water planning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey K. O’Hara
    • 1
  • Konstantine P. Georgakakos
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Hydrologic Research CenterSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Scripps Inst. of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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