Stuff I wrote elsewhere: on our ability to cope with reduced water supply

My whole “what’s all the fuss? we can cope with far less water than we’re now using” agenda is on display in this screed in the morning newspaper about the implications of Albuquerque’s drop from 252 gallons per person per day a decade-and-a-half ago to 150 today:

There are, I think, two key messages to take from the remarkable Albuquerque numbers.

The first is how much water conservation is possible in modern America. We’re not all as bad as Palm Springs. But when Albuquerque in the 1990s came to grips with the fact that our groundwater use was unsustainable, we found that with relatively little community pain, we were able to reduce our water usage. Even as the population has grown in the nearly two decades since, our total usage has dropped.

This has been repeated across the western United States….

There is a common theme in discussions of water and cities in the arid West – the analogy to past cultures that have abandoned the place, done in by drought and a lack of awareness of the realities of living in an arid land. The story of Albuquerque and other places like it is that when modern cities are faced with water problems, we are capable of using a lot less. Given the alternative of abandoning the place, I’m confident the folks in Palm Springs will quite easily figure out how to get their numbers down from 540 gallons per person per day. I confess to loving those palm trees too, but I’m guessing they could adjust to having a lot fewer of them.

The second message in Albuquerque’s numbers is that we’re nowhere near the bottom.


One Comment

  1. Do you have the summer versus winter usages of water in cities? Where irrigation of lawns etc does not occur due to the winter that should provide a good baseline number for water usage.

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