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Statewide water-saving practices could save drought-stricken California
The state of California suffers from a water deficit in excess of 6 million acre-feet, that's equal to about 3 million Olympic swimming pools. As the gap between water use in California and the available water supply grows and as climate change brings more extreme weather, including drought, the situation will only worsen.
According to a new study released yesterday by the Pacific Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, California could be saving up to 14 million acre-feet of untapped water annually with an aggressive statewide effort to use water-saving practices, reuse water, and capture lost stormwater.
According to the study, Agriculture uses about 80 percent of California's developed water supply, while urban areas use about 20 percent. Expanded adoption of drip irrigation and precise irrigation scheduling could reduce agricultural water use by or 5.6 to 6.6 million acre-feet of water annually, whereas improved efficiency, stormwater capture, and greater water reuse could together save a total of 5.2 million to 7.1 million acre-feet per year.
“Demand can be met more readily, less expensively, and with less pressure on our tapped-out rivers and groundwater basins, through water conservation and efficiency improvements, Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute.
In an email exchange with Peter Gleick, we asked if 14 million acres was enough and whether desalination had been looked at in the context of this study.
“If we got it all, it would be enough. We won't, of course. We didn't look at desalination. One big plant is now under construction at Carlsbad. VERY expensive, but we'll see more over time as other options get harder to tap”, wrote Gleick.