News Feature | January 11, 2016

Obama Admin Wants To Cut Water Use By A Third

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The Obama administration is pointing to a new goal for U.S. water conservation.

“We have potential to... reduce water usage by 33 percent. This would bring us closer in line with other industrialized nations, and could reduce the nation’s total CO2 emissions by about 1.5 percent annually,” the White House said in a recent announcement.

The figure is part of a new strategy for water innovation announced in December with an eye toward how climate change is affecting water resources.

The new strategy “includes an aggressive two-part approach led by Federal agencies to address the impacts of climate change on the use and supply of our nation’s water resources and calls on private sector and other stakeholder groups to help significantly scale up research and investment in water efficiency solutions,” according to the White House announcement.

In unveiling the new strategy, the White House released a report on water issues. It emphasized the use of existing technologies as the path to water conservation. Much of the challenge, according to the report, is promoting the adoption of existing technologies.

“Fewer than 10 percent of irrigated farms use advanced tools and technologies, such as soil- or plant-moisture sensing devices, commercial irrigation-scheduling services, or computer-based crop-growth simulation models to assist with water-management decisions,” the report noted.

The same goes for seeking efficiencies in groundwater extraction.

“Groundwater extraction should also be optimized to better monitor water levels and extraction volumes, pump efficiencies, reduce well interference, and reduce energy costs (e.g., optimizing pumping rates, optimizing pumping times to lower energy costs, utilizing alternative energy sources such as solar power or other energy sources to reduce emissions). An optimized groundwater extraction system integrated with surface water and recharge activities can result in increased water efficiencies and increasing water supply reliability,” the report said.