Higher temperatures—for longer periods of
the year—may increase the range of algae
and the intensity of algal blooms, with
associated impacts on source water quality.
We also want to prepare water suppliers for
these unusual effects.
The federal government and private
industry are increasingly embracing carbon
dioxide capture and sequestration (CCS) as
the best available technology for reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
In essence, CCS involves trapping
carbon dioxide under sealing layers
of rock underground. From the water
community’s perspective, we are interested
in carbon dioxide’s impact on underground
We are concerned that if carbon dioxide
reaches groundwater supplies, it might
change the water’s pH balance. That, in
turn, will increase alkalinity and dissolved
silica concentrations and might also allow
new contaminants such as arsenic to leach
from surrounding rock into the water.
As the USEPA works to define the rules
and liability issues related to carbon dioxide
sequestration, we are funding a project that
examines its real-world impacts on drinking
For a deeper look at Foundation research on climate change, visit
our Web site to download a special edition of Drinking Water
Research (Volume 18, issue number 2) devoted to the topic.
Utilities traditionally look at past
data to plan future models. “The
problem with climate change,” Mulroy
told the Foundation, “is you have no
In the absence of experience, we hope our
growing storehouse of research on climate
adaptation and risk management will
become an invaluable resource for utilities,
regulators, and government scientists as
they prepare for the unpredictable.