Pennsylvania Protects Coldwater Fisheries and Water Quality from Climate Change
In 2009, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection developed a “Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment.” This report identified the climate risks to maintaining the health of freshwater ecosystems among several other climate vulnerabilities.
The report identified warmer air temperatures, and the associated increase of stream waters, may reduce the ability for certain aquatic species to survive. This is supported by the EPA National Water Program's Climate and Water Strategy which identifies cold water fisheries as particularly susceptible to climate change and associated changes in water temperature.
The Climate Impact Assessment specifically suggested that: “Pennsylvania may see a decline in some of our most valued coldwater communities… Of special concern is the impact of higher temperatures and altered flow regimes on Eastern Brook Trout, not only because of its status as a recreationally and culturally important species, but because it is an indicator of high water quality and may be an early victim of deleterious impacts of climate change.”
Pennsylvania, in recognition of the cultural, environmental, and economic importance of cold-water fisheries to the state, and the vulnerability of possible transformation of cold water fisheries to warm water fisheries, identified the need to cover freshwater stream health within their Climate Change Adaptation Report. Pennsylvania, in recognition of the need to adapt to the changing climate and protect cold-water fisheries and freshwater ecosystems, outlined specific adaptation strategies for state agencies within their Climate Adaptation Planning Report.
These strategies, if implemented, can help Pennsylvania adapt to future climate changes for freshwater ecosystems, and will provide benefits to coldwater fisheries and stream health regardless of whether future climate impacts meet or exceed current projections.
|How Did They Do It?||Applicable EPA Tools|
|Pennsylvania conducted a Vulnerability Assessment for their natural lands
Hydrologic and Water Quality System models seven categories of pollutants to estimate future impacts of climate change on water quality and inform vulnerability assessments.
|Developed a Climate Adaptation Report
Adaptation to Attain Clean Water Goals can inform an adaptation report by discussing how climate change may affect the ability to meet future goals of the Clean Water Act.
|Identified specific recommendations
Synthesis of Adaptation Strategies Guidebook and the Wildlife Adaptation Strategy (PDF)(26 pp, 934 K, About PDF) details available adaptation options for coastal and inland areas.
Similar Cases and More Information
To view another case(s) that works to protect water quality and fish habitat, view the Piscataqua National Estuary Program or Minnehaha River case. For more information on communities that have adapted to maintain healthy streams for aquatic organisms under changing climate conditions view Vermont Culvert Rebuild Policy, or the Maine Culvert Analysis Case.
- Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment Report to the Department of Environmental Protection (PDF)(350 pp, 12 MB) Exit
- Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks and Practical Recommendations (PDF)(105 pp, 9.3 MB) Exit
- Planning and Management: Programmatic Response to Climate Change and Water
- Weathering Climate Change: Framing Strategies to Minimize Impacts on Pennsylvania Ecosystems and Wildlife (PDF)(32 pp, 1.8 MB) Exit