Most states are unprepared for growing water-related risks from climate change, according to a state-by-state analysis of water readiness released April 5 by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Twenty-nine states have done little or nothing at all to prepare for more severe and frequent storms, intense rainfall, sea-level rise, warmer water temperatures and droughts -- all potential impacts of climate change.
The least-prepared states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.
Almost nine out of 10 states likely face more frequent and intense storms, the report says. More rain increases flooding risk. Besides damaging property, flooding can overwhelm antiquated infrastructure and lead to discharges of untreated sewage in waterways, contaminating drinking water and closing beaches.
Droughts and warmer temperatures threaten water supplies for cities, agriculture and industries. Such droughts also could increase water demand for irrigation, hydro-power production and power plant cooling. At least 36 states face possible water supply challenges, but only six of them have comprehensive adaptation plans.
Even the best-prepared states face challenges. Water preparedness efforts appear to have slowed or stalled in Alaska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the report.
Meanwhile, just 22 states have set targets to cut pollution that causes climate change.
The Natural Resources Defense Council encourages states to plan how to cut emissions, and to assess their vulnerability to impacts from climate change and plan how to adapt.
Climate change has implications for insurance companies, too, which face rising costs if claims increase for flooding and other disasters, such as fires in areas suffering from drought.