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Tag archives for water conservation

One Colorado Town’s Answer to a Catch-22 of Water Conservation

A few years ago, the town of Westminster, Colorado, just north of Denver, came eye-to-eye with an issue many water-conserving cities face when a resident posed this question at a public meeting, “Why do you ask me to conserve, and then raise my rates?” With droughts dotting the country and a growing number of areas…

The Silver Lining in the California Drought

Denial, it’s been said, is not just a river in Egypt. It runs, of course, through each of us. But Californians have displayed quite a dose of it as a record-breaking drought rolls through its fourth year. It was just last week, propelled by the lowest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in recorded history, that…

Let’s Change our Water Story

Our human story has always been a water story. The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food,…

A Think Tank for the Colorado River’s Future

Grand Canyon photo by Brian Richter   Have you ever been in a work meeting or a classroom when you realize that you – and probably everyone else in the room – seemed to be talking at cross purposes and had lost track of the problem you were trying to solve? That’s how many of…

A Watershed Moment for Los Angeles

The timing might seem odd, even self-destructive. Last month, in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California’s historical record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order calling for his southern California city to cut its water imports by half within a decade. Water transferred hundreds of miles from northern…

Can Desalination Help Save a Holy River?

The Jordan River of the Middle East has supported a long succession of empires and other human settlements for more than 8,000 years, but it took less than one generation of modern civilization to reduce the river to a trickle of sewage. Now, the ultra-modern technology of “desalination” — turning ocean water into fresh water…

The Real Relationship Between Conservation and Rising Water Rates

From Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency: A number of articles have been published recently which report on rising water rates across the U.S., pointing fingers firmly at dropping national water demand – and the efficient fixtures and behaviors driving that drop – as the reason.

While this discussion brings much-needed attention to the infrastructure investments that are required to sustain our water systems, the focus on conservation as the primary culprit behind the increasing cost of water is inaccurate and misleading. Furthermore, this misrepresentation of the relationship between water conservation and rates is detrimental to efforts to ensure that consumers use water wisely and guarantee a long-term, reliable and affordable supply of fresh water in their communities.

Young Farmers in the Western U. S. Adapt to a Water-Scarce Future

Sipping raw, whole, grass-fed milk is a bit like tasting fine wine: a familiar experience, but much more special. That was my feeling when I drank a glass this week from De Smet Dairy in Bosque Farms, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the middle Rio Grande Valley. With his wife Erica, Mike De…

A Short List of Effective Actions to Conserve Water at Home

With droughts and water shortages slated to affect ever-larger portions of the United States, more and more people wonder how they can meaningfully make a difference. Lots of websites offer water-saving tips, but which actions actually conserve meaningful volumes of water?  And which offer the most conservation bang for the buck? A new study out…

Does Water Conservation Have To Be The Enemy Of Financial Stability?

Pricing is a powerful tool for shaping behavior, including water use. Recognizing the power of pricing, more water utilities are adopting water rates designed to encourage customers to conserve. These so-called “conservation rates” vary in form, but generally they increase the price per gallon of water the more water a customer uses. Across the country,…

Building a Resilient Water Portfolio

By Robert B. Sowby People often ask me, “So what’s the answer to the world’s water problems?” and expect an easy, digestible response. But there is no silver bullet. While most water plans have a dominant component, dependence on a single strategy is risky. Climate change, population growth, and other 21st-century challenges can adversely impact…

Short on Water? Don’t Blame it on the Rain

The common refrain in media stories about water shortages is that they are caused by droughts.  Don’t believe them. Droughts don’t cause water shortages.  People do. The water shortages appearing with increasing frequency and intensity around the globe are, regretfully, poignant signs of our society’s woeful inability to govern itself within limits, or to plan…

Chill Out on Ice Cubes to Save Water

Saving water is cool. No ice necessary.                   California 2013-2014 drought. It’s epic. The worst in the state’s recorded history. Everything you can think of is at a record low for this time of year: rainfall, snowpack, streamflow, reservoir storage…It’s so bad that Governor Jerry Brown has…

In Ireland, Water Will No Longer Be Free

Ireland is surely one of the greenest countries in the world, but its management of freshwater in recent times has been anything but green. Some 41 percent of the nation’s drinking water leaks out of delivery pipes – twice the UK average. That’s a costly loss given the expense of treating and pumping that water…

New Mexicans Call for Conservation over River Diversions

The western United States was settled with the help of big dams and river diversions that delivered distant water to burgeoning cities and farms, but at least one state is saying it’s time to shift gears. In a resounding voice of support for river protection, 85 percent of New Mexico residents say they want officials…