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California has Untapped Potential when it comes to Water Conservation

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Drought-ravaged California still has “huge untapped potential” when it comes to water conservation, says The U.S. Natural Resources and Defense Council (NRDC) and Pacific Institute in a new report.

Specifically, the state could save up to 14 million acre-feet of water with a concerted effort to re-use water, capture lost stormwater and ramp up water saving practices in urban and agricultural settings.

That would be enough to provide for all of California’s cities for one year.

The NRDC says getting to 20 per cent savings is more than possible with a combination of short- and longer-term investments. Most of the work can be done at the administrative level, says the NRCD, although new legislation that encourages efficiency and conservation wouldn’t hurt.

The report first turns to agriculture, which is responsible for 80 per cent of California’s water use. It’s estimated that if farmers adopt the latest efficient technologies, such as drip irrigation and precise irrigation scheduling, they could slash water use by 17-22 per cent.

The NRDC has appealed to state and regional governments to help with some of the initial investment by providing creative financing that would encourage farmers to adopt new technology.

Then, if cities boosted their efficiency and reuse of water, they could readily save 5.2 to 7.1 million acre-feet of water per year, or more than enough water to supply all of urban southern California.

The report says there is much work to be done, including ramping up investments in traditional water infrastructure and improving water-use data collection.  But the two organizations believe that with more concerted effort and policy support, California could easily get to the 20 per cent savings target.

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