People who live in the western United States know a sustainable water supply is critical to survival. When enduring water shortages, decreased water quality, as well as rising demands for water from an increasing population, most western states have seen their share of hot summers without enough water. Water and land conservation and improved efficiency are important parts of meeting the needs of many western states. Luckily with some techniques, success has been achieved in many different areas of the west.
California Water Conservation
According to California water officials, the state’s residents are regularly meeting the water saving mandates set by the state government. It is anticipated California will meet over 25 percent of the savings goals set by the governor. Residents are adapting to the requests for shorter showers, limiting lawn watering, dry public fountains, and more. They are also starting to follow the warnings about the need to save water.
Industrial Water Use
One of the major factors to an increase in water conservation is an overall decrease in industrial water use. Many manufacturers in western states have implemented techniques such as recycling water. This is good for conservation and also helps to lower operating costs. In addition to utilizing recycled water, a number of industries are also using cooling system technologies that have drastically reduced water usage in overall areas.
Farm Water Use
Another thing that has led to successful water conservation is the decrease in farming irrigation withdrawals. Most large farming operations are experiencing the benefits of utilizing irrigation systems that are increasingly efficient. There is a move toward the use of sprinkler and micro-irrigation systems designed to reduce water consumption. This technology is becoming popular around the country and not just in the western states. The significant decline of irrigation withdrawals has made a major contribution to the national water conservation goals.
Power Plant Water Use
Since the 1970s, a large number of power plants in western states have been built or converted to use the most efficient cooling system technologies available and there have been significant decreases in the amount of surface and groundwater used for the power plant cooling process. Within a five-year period, their water use decreased up to fifteen billion gallons a day. Professionals and new innovators with degrees in environmental management are looking at other new processes where power plants can continue to reduce and reuse their water. With time, we will see how their technology changes and develops.
Over a million acres of public land in Montana and other western states was given new protection from the U.S. Congress. Under this legislation, the current lands managed by a board of trustees will now be maintained by the National Park Service. This will increase public access while maintaining the hunting and fishing rights established in these places. It will also protect adjacent lands from any mining and mineral excavation and more.
Land and water in the west are increasingly becoming valuable resources. With the right techniques and strategies, more of these are being saved and reused. Water in the west continues to be precious, but hopefully not a resource that will disappear.