Study Says DC Most At Risk of Water Shortage

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The Potomac River. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

The Potomac River. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A study published Wednesday says the Washington metro area’s water is at risk, but not in the way you might think.

More than any other area in the United States, D.C. is in danger of a water shortage, according to the Columbia University Water Center. If you’re surprised, you’re not the only one. Even the scientists were taken aback by those findings.

Columbia University’s Dr. Upmanu Lall, a hydroclimatology expert, told WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters that researchers were expecting locales in the West and Southwest to top the list.

Upon finding out D.C. was the most at-risk city, “I was thinking ‘How could that possibly be?'” Lall said. “But I think the variability in rainfall in these areas and the high density of localized demand.”

Before doing the study, researchers developed a new metric called the Normalized Deficit Cumulated (NDC) index. It is based on factors like water demand, precipitation totals, water use and variations in water supply. The metric considers only locally renewable sources of water, and therefore exposes dependence on water from outside the area. D.C., for example, relies heavily on water flowing in the Potomac River.

In addition to that negative factor, Lall says the draw on the DMV’s water is three-pronged, coming from homes, farms and businesses.

To see the full study, visit GrowingBlue.com.

WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters contributed to this report. Follow her and WNEW on Twitter.

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