Why Conserve Water in the Pacific Northwest?
by: Partnership for Water Conservation Posted on: October 21, 2010
By Janet Nazy, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Conservation
We live in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Water is plentiful so why conserve it? The fact is, while we have a rainy reputation, the Puget Sound region ranks only 56th in the nation in average rainfall. Cities like Atlanta, New York and Houston all have higher annual precipitation rates.
And it’s not just how MUCH rain we get but WHEN we get it. We actually have a Mediterranean climate – lots of precipitation fall through spring, but very little in the summer, when demand is the highest. Even with good snow pack, at summer’s end, stream, reservoir and ground water levels can run low. That’s when the water needs of people compete with those of migrating salmon, other wildlife and vegetation.
Climate change will only increase the problem. Scientists are predicting warmer temperatures will mean less snow pack and more rain during the rainy season, with higher temperatures, and greater need for water during the summer. Add to that the region’s growing population which is expected to increase 27% between 2000 and 2020. Some water suppliers are already predicting they could have insufficient supply to meet demand.
Water is a finite resource. Governments could build new dams and reservoirs but they are costly and controversial. They also take years to develop and build. Water conservation is the fastest, easiest and most economical way to stretch our limited supply of water.
Water conservation works. Conserving water helps reduce demand, allowing more water to remain in our rivers and streams. Increasing water quantity also increases water quality. If we all get in the habit of using water-efficient behavior every day, we can help ensure that there’s enough water for our communities, businesses and the environment.
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