A group of agencies that provide water to millions of customers in the western US. has accessed ripping up grass in public spaces in several states as part of an effort to reduce water use as the Colorado River continues to suffer from a severe drought.
More than 30 agencies that draw water from the river signed the conservation agreement last week. The commitment promises to remove 30% of lawns and replace them with “drought and climate resilient landscapes while maintaining vital streetscapes and tree canopies,” which benefit communities and wildlife. The agencies will remove many of the manicured grasses seen in parking lots, neighborhood driveways, and highway medians.
Although seemingly harmless, grass lawns consume a lot of water. a 2016 study co-authored with NASA scientists He emphasized that grass growing in arid states (such as California, for example) could be responsible for up to 75% of a household’s water use. Agencies like the Southern Nevada Water Authority owners have been encouraged replace grassy lawns with plants that absorb much less water, such as drip-irrigated trees.
“Replacing this lawn with drip-irrigated trees and plants will save about 9.5 billion gallons of water, which is about 10% of our Lake Mead/Colorado River community’s total water allocation,” a spokesperson for Earther told Earther. the Southern Nevada Water Authority. an email.
So far the compromise is a bit light on the details. The agencies promised to expand water recycling efforts, though they did not explain how. The agreement also did not mention how the regional agricultural industry will reduce its use of water, although it acknowledged that cities do not consume most of the water that comes out of the river. Urban areas use about a fifth of the water coming from the Colorado River, while agriculture takes up the rest, the Associated Press reported. “The cities, 20%, cannot solve the mathematical problem. But we certainly can help solve the problem,” said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, according to the Associated Press.
Western communities are already feeling the ripple effect of some recent water conservation efforts. A small town of 500 people near the foothills of Rio Verde in Arizona may be without water by the end of this year. The city does not have its own water and gets it from nearby Scottsdale. But late last year, Scottsdale announced that stop carrying water to the city by 2023. City officials cited a shortage of Colorado River water for the cut. Scottsdale gets about 65% of its water from the river, and officials are trying to reduce usage by stopping water deliveries to the small town.
If the region does not continue to reduce water use from the Colorado River, major reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead could dry up in only three years. And it doesn’t look like the country’s water problems are going to go away anytime soon. Just last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the US. another super dry winter. Most of California, Nevada, and Utah are expected to continue to experience drier-than-average conditions and below-average rainfall.
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