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Water Quality & Quantity

Climate Change Training Module

Water Quality and

Climate Change and
Public Health
Minnesota Climate and Health Program
Minnesota Department of Health
Environmental Impacts Analysis Unit
October 2012
625 Robert Street North
PO Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975


MDH developed this presentation

based on scientific research
published in peer-reviewed
journals. References for
information can be found in the
relevant slides and/or at the end
of the presentation.

Learning Objectives
Importance of water in
Climate changes in Minnesota
Public health issues related to:
1. Increases in water
2. Decreases in water
3. Increases in water temperature


Water Sources
Water Cycle
Water Uses

nnesota: A Land of Water

Surface water:
11,842 lakes greater
than 10 acres and
63,000 miles of
rivers and streams
(NCDC 2006, University of Minnesota Water
Resources Center 2011)

several aquifers
across the state and
400,000 drinking
water wells
(DNR, 2010; MDH, 2012)

Source: University of Minnesota Water Resources

nnesota: A Land of Water

Has the most
freshwater among
the 48 lower states

(University of Minnesota Water Resources

Center, 2011)

At the head of four

watersheds and is the
headwaters and
origin of three of the
(DNR, 2000)

Source: DNR,

Water in Minnesota
99% of the water that comes into
Minnesota is in the form of precipitation
(University of Minnesota Water Resources Center 2011)

We control the quality & quantity of water

we use and discard

Water in Minnesota
Three main air
masses affect
1. Cold, dry, polar
continental from the north
2. Dry, tropical continental
3. Warm, moist tropical
maritime from the Gulf of

Major air masses converging to



Hydrologic Cycle
The hydrologic cycle
describes the continuous
movement of water:
Evaporation to the
Precipitation to the land
Infiltration to groundwater
Discharge to surface water

Changes in climate can

alter the hydrologic cycle
Temperature affects water
vapor which affects

Water Use
19% water use comes from ground water and the
remaining comes from surface water
Total water use in MN from
1985 to 2010


Water Use


innesota Drinking Water

78% of Minnesotans
rely on public drinking
water which is largely
from groundwater
One million
Minnesotans (22%) rely
on private wells, which
all use groundwater

Water is Key
Minnesota is rich in water resources
High quality, abundant water is
essential to Minnesota economy,
culture, future
Understanding the basic properties of
the water cycle and the atmosphere
is fundamental to understanding
impacts of climate change on water

Dew point


Weather versus Climate

Weather: conditions of
the atmosphere over
a short period of time
Climate: conditions of
the atmosphere over
long periods of time
(30-year standard
averaging period)

Climate Changes in Minnesota

There have been three recent
significant observed climate trends in
The average temperature is increasing
The average number of days with a
high dew point may be increasing
The character of precipitation is

Temperature Changes
Temperature has been rising in Minnesota.


Temperature Changes
Three significant observations in this
overall warming:
Winter temperatures have been rising about
twice as fast as annual average
Minimum or 'overnight low' temperatures
have been rising faster than the maximum
temperature, or daytime high
Since the early 1980s, the temperature has
risen slightly over 1F in southern Minnesota
to a little over 2F in much of the northern
part of the state

Temperature and Ice



Dew Point Changes

Dew point is a measure of water vapor
in the air
The higher the dew point, the more
difficult it is for people's sweat to
evaporate, which is how they cool
The number of days with high dew
point temperatures ( 70 F) may be
increasing in Minnesota

Dew Point Changes

Source: Dr. Mark Seeley, Climatologist, University of Minnesota


Precipitation Changes
On average, the total precipitation in the state has
increased since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.


Precipitation Changes
The character of precipitation in
Minnesota is changing
More localized, heavy precipitation
Potential to cause both increased
flooding and drought


Public health issues

related to:
Increases in water
Decreases in water
Increases in water temperature

Increases in Water

Highway 169 between St. Peter and LeSueur

Precipitation Changes
Humidity & Dew Point


Changes in Snowfall Contributions to

Wintertime Precipitation
(1949 to 2005)

More wintertime precipitation falls as rain rather

than snow
This trend may increase risks of runoff and floods
Reduced snowpack may lead to lower water levels and
drought in late summer
(Karl et al. 2009)

Precipitation Changes
Greatest increase in
very heavy precipitation
in the past 50 years
occurred in the
Northeast and the
(Karl et al. 2009)

Total precipitation in the

Midwest and Northeast
is expected to increase
the most with the
largest increases in
heavy precipitation
(Karl et al. 2009)

Very heavy precipitation is defined as the

heaviest 1 percent of all daily events from 1958 to


Public Health Issues Precipitation


injuries and
of property

nitrate, etc.

ion of
surface and

Waterborne disease outbreaks

from drinking water or
recreational contact
(beachgoers): Giardiasis, E coli,


Flooding results from a combination of
Land use changes that reduce infiltration
Undersized sewer/stormwater pipes
Extreme precipitation and/or rapid
and frequency are
likely to increase
in most regions,
and volumes of
low flows are
likely to decrease
in many regions
(Field et al, 2007)


2012 Duluth/northeastern Minnesota 500year flood event

Photo credits: Rachel

Agurkis (top), Derek
Montgomery for MPR

blic Health Issues - Flooding

Potential increases
physical injuries
(including drowning)
allergies (mold)
food and water-borne
food security
mental health issues
interruption of
emergency services
(WHO, 2010)

Oslo, MN, May 14, 2009

35 days after the Red River

blic Health Issues - Flooding

Foodborne illnesses (e.g. Salmonellosis)
Increased risk from contamination of certain
food crops with feces from nearby livestock or
wild animals following heavy rain and flooding
(Ebi et al, 2008; CCSP, 2008)

Waterborne illnesses
Caused by pathogens
(e.g. Cryptosporidium and
Giardia) which may increase
following downpours
Can also be transmitted
in drinking water and
through recreational use
(Ebi et al, 2008; CCSP, 2008)

Public Health Issues Flooding

1993 Milwaukee Cryptosporidium
1.61 M people were
affected; over 400,000 w/
significant symptoms; 100
people died
Median duration of illness
was 9 days (range, 1 to 55)
Clinical manifestations
included watery diarrhea
(93%), abdominal cramps
(84%), fever (57%),
vomiting (48%)
$31.7 million in total
medical costs and $64.6
million in total lost

blic Health Issues - Flooding

Mental health: anxiety disorders,
depression, psychological effects
(Ebi et al. 2008)


Humidity/Dew Point

Greater frequency of tropicallike atmospheric water vapor

(Mark Seeley, 2012)


Humidity/Dew Point

July 19, 2011: highest dew point

temperature recorded ever in Minnesota
88F dew point in Moorhead (combined with
93F air temperature, it felt like 130F)
(State Climatology Office)


Heat Index
The Heat Index (HI): calculation that describes
how the air temperature and dew point are
perceived the human body

(Source: NWS,


Public Health Issues Humidity

& Heat
Human health issues:

heat rash, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, death

Stressed livestock:
reduced milk
production, reproduction
problems, death

Algae blooms
Increased vector and
microorganism populations

Decrease in Water

Lower water



Water Levels: Great Lakes

Average Great Lakes levels depends on the balance between

precipitation and evaporation

(Hayhoe et al. 2010)


Public Health Issues

Drought & Lower Water Levels
Reduced soil moisture reserves,
groundwater supplies, lake and
wetland levels, and stream flows
Potential concentration of
Decreasing water supply for
drinking water and agriculture
Agriculture: adversely affects crop progress and soil moisture
and therefore food supply
Wildfire dangers (e.g., Pagami Creek Fire, Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Wilderness started August 18th 2011; 92,682
acres as of Oct. 13th 2011): injuries, property damage,
anxiety, psychological effects

Increase in Water
Changes in fish
populations &
Algal blooms
Reduced dissolved
Incomplete mixing
Increased vectors
Invasive species/ northern
expansion of organisms

Fish Populations &

Conceptual diagram of
Warmer waters could
harm fish populations
and biological activity
of cold aquatic
Warmer waters and
rainfall intensity may
be contributing to an
increase in mercury
concentrations in fish

climate warming effects on

Minnesota fish communities

Source: Peter Jacobson,

DNR Fisheries Research


Harmful Algal Blooms &

Reduced Dissolved Oxygen
Increased pollution and temperatures
can result in blooms of harmful algae
and bacteria and reduce the amount
of dissolved oxygen


Incomplete mixing
Longer periods of stratification
(surface and water bottom dont mix)
may cause dead zones (low oxygen
levels) and decrease self-purification
capabilities of water features
May cause fish kills, poor water
quality, increased insect populations,


Increased vectors
Climate change may contribute to
the breeding of insects (e.g.,
mosquitoes) and may increase the
risk of vector-borne diseases (e.g.,
West Nile virus)

Invasive species &

northern expansion of
Invasive species
Asian carp
Zebra mussels
Sea lamprey
DNR Invasive Species Many zebra mussels
attached to a native mussel.
Source: MN DNR

Expansion of disease-causing

Public Health Strategies

Green infrastructure
Grey infrastructure
Emergency Preparedness
Individual Strategies


Green Infrastructure
Rely on natural
Trees and plant


Above: Target Center Roof in


Rain gardens
Pervious pavers


Grey Infrastructure
Increase capacity of stormwater
pipes, storage tanks and wastewater
treatment facilities to accommodate
larger rain events


Green & Grey Infrastructure

Water Management
1. Protect natural

drainage patterns,
watersheds and
water bodies
Infiltrate and
collect water
Plant native,
Conserve water
(e.g., low irrigation
Reuse water

Source: DNR, 2011d


Emergency Preparedness
Emergency preparedness:
Plan for floods and extreme weather
Minnesota Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) website on
preparing for floods:
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) website on
protecting private wells from floods:

Individual Strategies
Contaminated Water
Drink bottled water during and/or after a flood or
Get your well tested

Treat contaminated water


Seek information on beaches prior to swimming and

avoid visibly contaminated waters
Beach info: http://
Blue-green algae: http://

Track fish consumption advisories


Water has always been an important and
abundant resource in Minnesota
Minnesotas climate is predicted to change in the
future and will impact water quality and quantity
There are serious public health issues related to:
Increases in water
Decreases in water
Increases in water temperature

Strategies to prevent injury and illness include

infrastructure adaptation and public health
planning and response


This work was supported by
cooperative agreement 5UE1EH000738
from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention
Special thanks to the following people for their
contributions to the creation of this training
Anita Anderson, MDH
Patti Craddock, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.
Chris Elvrum, MDH
Tannie Eshenaur, MDH
Ann Pierce, DNR
Angela Preimesberger, MPCA
Lih-in Rezania, MDH
Andrew Sullivan, Eden Prairie


Thank you
Contact the Minnesota Climate and Health
October 10, 2012

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References (cont.)
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Photo Credits

Slide 4: Photograph by Chana Bapikee

Slide 7: Images from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 12: Images from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 15: Images from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 19: Images from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 25: KEYC Television
Slide 26: Photograph by Sam Choo, available at http://
Slide 29: Photograph by Patsy Lynch/FEMA, August 23, 2007 Stockton
Slide 30: Left image from Rachel Agurkis, Right image from Derek Montgomery for MPR
Slide 31: Photograph by Ed Edahl/FEMA, May 14, 2009 Oslo
Slide 32: Image of salmonella from Wikipedia, available at
Slide 33: Photograph credit - Kathy Blair & Jeffrey P. Davis, MD Wisconsin Division of Public Health
Slide 34: Photograph by Gettyimages
Slide 35: Image by Tildology, available at
Slide 36: The Weather Channel 2011
Slide 38: Top image from AFP/Getty Images (provided by Peter Synder, UMN)
Slide 39: Left photograph DNR, right photograph by Chana Bapikee
Slide 42: Photograph by Kate Houston
Slide 43: Image from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 45: Photograph of blue-green algae, Source: MPCA
Slide 47: Image of mosquito from Wikipedia, available at
Slide 48: Image of zebra mussels from MN DNR, available at
Slide 50: Top image from Pam Blixt, City of Minneapolis; bottom image from Microsoft Clip Art
Slide 51: Image of culvert from Wikipedia, available at