Just outside Portland, OR, the Clackamas river flows from the top of Mt. Hood, through forest land, alongside farms, and into Portland’s suburbs. The river provides recreation, irrigation, drinking water to over 300,000 customers, and more. Clackamas River Water Providers, a consortium water providers who pull from the Clackamas River; and Clackamas River Water Environmental Services, the waste water and watershed protection agency in the area, want to plan for the effects of climate change on the Clackamas River. These stakeholders are working with an interdisciplinary team from Portland State University to help understand how water quality and quantity may change in the future.
Like other areas of the Pacific Northwest, the Clackamas river is projected to have increases in winter flow and decreases in summer flow, increasing air temperatures, decreasing snow-pack, and dryer, longer summers. It’s already known that this will have some negative impact on water resources, water quality, water-dependent industries, and ecosystems. The Clackamas Watershed Resilience project aims to provide a more comprehensive and detailed picture of the future of the watershed by focusing on this specific geography and increasing their understanding of how a variety of climate change risks/possible events are linked to the water quality and quantity in the region. The team includes specialists in hydrology, meteorology, geology, fire ecology and social science who are looking at how large-scale storms, rain on snow events, drought, and fire have historically effected the watershed.
Fletcher Beaudoin, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Portland State University, Assistant Director