Relative Watershed Vunerability Index - California Integrated Assessment of Watershed Health

Aug 22, 2016 (Last modified May 5, 2017)
Description:
Relative Watershed Vulnerability index scores for California catchments are displayed in Figure 14. Regional patterns in Relative Watershed Vulnerability index scores include:
  • High vulnerability scores are concentrated in the Modoc and northern Central Valley regions.
  • Large patches of mid to high vulnerability scores occur throughout the remainder of the state. Examples include portions of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the San Francisco Bay area, Salinas Valley, Imperial and Coachella Valleys, and areas north of Los Angeles and north of San Diego.
  • Low vulnerability scores are concentrated in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Patches of low scores also occur throughout the Sierra Nevada foothills, to the east of San Diego, and across much of the Central Coast. 
Scores for individual watershed vulnerability attribute indices (Climate Change, Land Cover, Water Use, and Fire Vulnerability) are also shown in Figure 14. Regional patterns vary considerably among indices due to thematic differences:
  • High Climate Change Vulnerability scores are limited to the northern third of the state, where temperatures are expected to increase and climate change is projected to alter snowpacks, surface runoff, and baseflow.
  • Land Cover Vulnerability scores are highest in the vicinity of existing towns and cities, and reflect expected expansion of populations into nearby undeveloped areas.
  • High Water Use Vulnerability scores are also concentrated in existing urban/agricultural hubs.
  • Fire Vulnerability scores are highest in the forested regions of the northwest and Sierra Nevadas, with developed areas receiving low fire vulnerability scores due to the absence of natural vegetation. 
Relative Watershed Vulnerability scores represent a best approximation of the potential for future degradation of aquatic ecosystem health. They depict projected changes in natural and anthropogenic watershed characteristics that are related to aquatic ecosystem health rather than explicit changes in physical, chemical, and biological stream conditions. The index is most valuable when used in conjunction with information on current levels of watershed health, such as Relative Watershed Condition Index scores and/or Relative Stream Health Index scores. For example, high vulnerability scores are evident west of Lake Tahoe, and high Relative Stream Health Index scores are also concentrated in this region. Such areas where high stream health coincides with high vulnerability to future degradation can be viewed as priorities for detailed assessment of protection opportunities
Data Provided By:
CALIFORNIA INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT OF WATERSHED HEALTH November 2013 EPA 841-R-14-003 Prepared by The Cadmus Group, Inc. for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Support for this project was provided by the U.S. EPA Healthy Watersheds Initiative (http://www.epa.gov/healthywatersheds)

This document was prepared by The Cadmus Group, Inc. under contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Water, Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. The following individuals are acknowledged for their contributions to project planning, data acquisition, and review of draft materials:  Lilian Busse, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board  Terry Fleming, US EPA Region 9  Laura Gabanski, US EPA Office of Water  Max Gomberg, State Water Resources Control Board  John Hunt, University of California, Davis  Kris Jones, California Department of Water Resources  Karen Larsen, State Water Resources Control Board  Jon Marshack, State Water Resources Control Board  Owen McDonough, US EPA Office of Water  Peter Ode, California Department of Fish and Wildlife  Dave Paradies  Fraser Shilling, University of California, Davis  Eric Stein, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project  Tom Suk, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board  Lori Webber, State Water Resources Control Board  Karen Worcester, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Content date:
2013
Citation:
CALIFORNIA INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT OF WATERSHED HEALTH November 2013 EPA 841-R-14-003 Prepared by The Cadmus Group, Inc. for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Support for this project was provided by the U.S. EPA Healthy Watersheds Initiative (http://www.epa.gov/healthywatersheds)
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Watershed Catchments
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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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