Water Stewardship Updates from TreeZero

The Term ‘Drought’ Is Out of Date for the American Southwest. They Call It ‘Aridification’ Now

by Charles P. Pierce

From the High Country News: This spring, the Colorado River Research Group, an independent team of scientists focused on the river, labeled the climate transition in the Colorado River Basin “aridification,” meaning a transformation to a drier environment. The call for a move away from the word “drought” highlighted the importance of the specific language used to describe what’s going on in the Southwest: It could shift cultural norms around water use and help people internalize the need to rip out lawns, stop washing cars and refrain from building new diversions on already strapped rivers. https://bit.ly/2SJcoEj

 

 

Americans are sending 1.7 trillion gallons of water down the drain every year from their showers alone

That’s according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency and Water Filter Data, which say the average US citizen reports taking around six showers per week – the average shower is 8.2 minutes long and uses 17.2 gallons of water, meaning the typical person uses approximately 5,336 gallons of water showering each year. This makes showers the third largest water user in the typical US home, accounting for nearly a fifth of all water used indoors. With an estimated population of 326 million, people across the country use a combined 1.7 trillion gallons a year showering, which equates to 33.6 billion gallons of water every week. This yearly figure is enough to fill 2.6 million Olympic swimming pools or to supply the entire water usage of New York City for nearly five years. This estimate doesn’t factor in those who prefer to take baths, which use up to triple the amount of water. The Alliance for Water Efficiency also stresses the cycle of treating and delivering water is highly energyintensive. It calls for people to switch to a low-flow shower head, which it claims could save more than 300 billion gallons of water each year. https://bit.ly/2QwP4NF

 

The long dry: Why the world’s water supply is shrinking

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. The study — the most exhaustive global analysis of rainfall and rivers — was conducted by a team led by Professor Ashish Sharma at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. It relied on actual data from 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites in 160 countries, instead of basing its findings on model simulations of a future climate, which can be uncertain and at times questionable. “This is something that has been missed,” said Sharma, an ARC Future Fellow at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “We expected rainfall to increase, since warmer air stores more moisture — and that is what climate models predicted too. What we did not expect is that, despite all the extra rain everywhere in the world, is that the large rivers are drying out. “We believe the cause is the drying of soils in our catchments. Where once these were moist before a storm event — allowing excess rainfall to run-off into rivers — they are now drier and soak up more of the rain, so less water makes it as flow. “Less water into our rivers means less water for cities and farms. And drier soils means farmers need more water to grow the same crops. Worse, this pattern is repeated all over the world, assuming serious proportions in places that were already dry. It is extremely concerning,” he added. For every 100 raindrops that fall on land, only 36 drops are ‘blue water’ — the rainfall that enters lakes, rivers and aquifers — and therefore, all the water extracted for human needs. The remaining two thirds of rainfall is mostly retained as soil moisture — known as ‘green water’ — and used by the landscape and the ecosystem. https://bit.ly/2Gg0Nva

 

Seven-state Colorado River drought plan approved

By Jerd Smith 

A powerful Colorado River agency formally approved a far-reaching set of drought plans this week, paving the way for a critical seven-state accord designed to stave off mandatory cutbacks in water use in the midst of a 19-year drought. The decision came at the Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference in Las Vegas, an event attend. A powerful Colorado River agency formally approved a far-reaching set of drought plans this week, paving the way for a critical seven-state accord designed to stave off mandatory cutbacks in water use in the midst of a 19-year drought. https://bit.ly/2QupB7g

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