With much of the western U.S. experiencing drought conditions, a report from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that national water use is at its lowest point in 45 years, dropping 13% from 2005-2010. While thermoelectric power plants and irrigation remain the two largest users of water, both have decreased their consumption over the measured time period. Public water supply withdrawals also dropped 5% in the face of a 4% population increase, which is the first decrease in public water use since the USGS began the survey in 1950.
While a decrease in water use is encouraging, a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters warns that the drought affecting the western U.S. could be made worse by the fact that ground water in the basin is being depleted six times faster than surface water. Noting that the research shows ground water taking up a larger amount of basin water use than previously recognized, the study’s authors warn that excessive use of basin ground water could threaten future allocations of water, especially during drought conditions.
Looking to stay ahead of the water conservation trend? Take a look at these strategies that can help you get started.