Harnessing the power of nature to address water and climate challenges

  • 19.08.2022
  • Stanford

This has been a summer of extremes. As America wilts under unprecedented waves of heat, parts of the country have been inundated with flooding rains that climate scientists say should only happen on average once every 500 years. Meanwhile, reservoir levels across the West have bottomed out amidst a withering drought, imperiling water supplies from Denver to Los Angeles and threatening to dry up millions of acres of agricultural land in between.

Recent passage of funding for climate measures suggests that the federal government is ready to join states in addressing climate change. For years, policies in many states have incentivized electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and decarbonization. Below, Stanford’s Felicia Marcus discusses how states are also turning to nature in their efforts to combat climate change. Marcus, the William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program, is an attorney and water policy expert who has worked on water-related management and policy issues at the federal, state, and local levels. She recently conducted a study of nature-based solutions, such as restoring beaver habitat to enhance water supplies, reduce the severity of forest fires, and sequester carbon, in Colorado River Basin states. Results of this study, which has not been peer-reviewed, have been released as a report and briefs published on Water in the West.