Research Report


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Fall semester 2011 at Salt Lake Community College

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Research Report

  1. 1. Hyde 1Ashley HydeJessica FrogleyEnglish 2010Research Report10, December, 2011 Western States and Water Shortages Sustainability of water in the Western United states is of paramount importance for thesurvival of living beings. The role of water in sustainability can be compared to role of the heartin the human body. Water is used commercially, domestically, industrially and for irrigationpurposes. Hence, it plays a central role as the life support system. Shortage of water meanscomplete stagnation of all commercial, domestic and industrial activities. Water is nature’s mostprecious resource. In other words, water permeates life on Earth. Increasing industrializationand agricultural usage has taken a great toll upon reservoir of fresh water. Since the 1950s, everydecade has witnessed more water scarcity due to withdrawals by humans. The goal is to providea sustainable future to contribute to the quality of life. The water problems involve both quality and quantity. Water resource experts in westernstates are finding it increasingly difficult to satisfy new and competing demands for water.Particularly in light of rapid population growth. Western states are experiencing large populationpercentage changes. According to the 2000 Census Bureau statistics, population growth variedsignificantly by region in the 1990s, with the highest rates in the West 19.7 percent. The Westincreased by 10.4 million to reach 63.2 million people. Because of differences in growth rates,the regional shares of the total population have shifted considerably in recent decades. Between
  2. 2. Hyde 21950 and 2000, the percentage of the Nation’s population living in the West increased from 13.3to 22.5 percent. More recently, from 2004 to 2005, five of the six fastest growing states were:Arizona 3.5%; Nevada 3.5%; Idaho 2.4%; Utah 2.0% and Texas 1.7%. Other western states arenot far behind Colorado 1.4%, Oregon 1.4%, New Mexico 1.3% and Washington 1.3%( Surprisingly, many of these states are also the driest states in the Nation. There are restrictions for water in the United States. The Clean Water Act (CWA) wasestablished to regulate the input of pollution into the water of the United States. The act made itunlawful to discharge any pollution into water unless a permit is obtained by the EnvironmentalProtection Agency. Jennifer Weeks a CQ Researcher contributing writer in Watertown, Mass.,who specializes in energy and environmental issues states that the A 2009 New York Timesinvestigation found that after several decades of cracking down on water pollution, CWAviolations were rising once again. The New York Times estimated that between 2004 and 2009,one in 10 Americans had been exposed to drinking water that contained dangerous chemicals orfailed to meet other federal health standards(Weeks). This is a big issue in the United States.People are becoming more entitled when it come to water. The most frequent view of the environment is that natural resource, such as water, isvaluable only if it is useful to humans. The consequence of this philosophy is degradedecosystem and diminishing biodiversity. Many regions place few limits on groundwaterpumping for residential wells, irrigation and other uses. Economists favor charging more forwater in summer, when people use water for nonessential purposes like washing their cars, overwatering lawns and filling swimming pools (Weeks). New uses to accommodate growth must
  3. 3. Hyde 3largely rely on water obtained from changes to existing uses of surface and ground water, withlimited opportunities to develop new supplies. Water scarcity is a reality in much of the Western states. To have allowed growth tocontinue people have relied on reservoir storage, transbasin diversions, which is the conveyanceof water from its natural drainage basin into another basin for beneficial use, ground waterdevelopment, and water right transfers. It is becoming an issue due to the fact that these optionswill not be sustainable in the near future. Third party’s and other direct has an impact on of watertransfers, water conservation, declining rural economies based on irrigation, dwindling surfaceand ground water supplies and other water use related changes, as well as growing in streamwater demands for environmental and recreational uses, are all redefining the quality of life inthe West. However, in some states, for the first time legal and physical limits are appearing on theplanning horizon. Economist have proposed the introduction to water markets to improve thedistribution efficiency of water resources in the West (Kling. 278). In the future, water may notbe able to sustain unlimited growth and still maintain the current quality of life. The government would have to spend more than $250 billion in the next several years tomodernize water systems in cities to make them more sustainable and suitable for growth(Weeks). The goal is to address and overcome the major challenges facing water systems in theWestern United States that are sustainable from economic, political, institutional and equitableperspectives. States have spent little to no time addressing the fundamental question of whatdefines an effective water system. The measurement of any of natures resources is a crucialchallenge. Experts are helping to identify broad goals for western water sustainability systems
  4. 4. Hyde 4also how the goals can be realistically met. The social, economic and environmental results areimportant and sometimes are not well understood. Growth is also occurring in agricultural areaswhere key water resources are often fragile and scarce. Natural amenities of the West are beingsubdivided and displaced. Ironically, these natural elements are key factors attracting the verypopulation movement which is destroying them. All this is raising concerns related tosustainability. Currently, Utah alone consumes about 260 gallons per person per day(, secondonly to Nevada and California doubles that number. If Utahans can reduce per capitaconsumption of water 25 percent by 2050, they will conserve the equivalent of over 500,000 acrefeet of water per year. That is more water than can be held in Jordanelle Reservoir and DeerCreek Reservoir combined, and more than any water project in Utah has developed. So where does the water come from? Rivers, streams, reservoirs, and lakes constitute thesurface water portion of the freshwater supply, and in most cases, flow and quantities of water instorage can be measured. Ground water is present in aquifers at varying depths, but only waternear the land surface (less than 2,000 feet) realistically is available for use( Most ofthe total annual flow of water in the lower Colorado River Basin originates upstream of GlenCanyon Damn located in northern Arizona. As a result of natural run off from precipitin andmelting snow from Utah, Colorado and Wyoming(
  5. 5. Hyde 5 Aquaculture Domestic Industrial Live Stock Irrigation Mining Public Supply Thermoelectic Power 2% 4% 1% 1% 31% 49% 1% 11%What is the water used for in the Western United States? There are eight specific categories thatare considered high usage of water; aquaculture, mining, public supply, domestic, industrial,thermoelectric power, live stock and irrigation. Thermoelectric freshwater withdrawals accounted for 49 percent of all freshwaterwithdrawals. Nearly all the water withdrawn for thermoelectric power was surface water used foronce-through cooling at power plants. Twenty-nine percent of thermoelectric-power withdrawalswere saline water from oceans and brackish coastal water bodies. Irrigation withdrawalsaccounted for 31 percent of all freshwater withdrawals and 62 percent of all freshwaterwithdrawals excluding thermoelectric withdrawals. The number of acres irrigated using sprinkler
  6. 6. Hyde 6and micro irrigation systems has continued to increase and in 2005 accounted for 56 percent ofthe total irrigated acreage. Public supply accounted for 11 percent of all freshwater withdrawalsin 2005 and 21 percent of all freshwater withdrawals excluding thermoelectric withdrawals.Most of the population providing their own household water obtained their supplies fromgroundwater sources. Livestock water use was estimated to be the smallest estimate. Freshsurface water was the source for a majority of the public-supply, irrigation, aquaculture,thermoelectric, and industrial withdrawals. Nearly 30 percent of all fresh surface-waterwithdrawals in 2005 occurred in five States. In California, Idaho, and Colorado, most of the freshsurface-water withdrawals were for irrigation. In Texas and Illinois, most of the fresh surfacewater withdrawals were for thermoelectric power generation( of Research: In doing research on the topic of sustainability of natural resources the results werealmost too broad for this research report. The topic had to be narrowed down to a one singlenatural resource from land, oil or water. Giving it that a lot comes into play when you areresearching something so valuable in the world of nature. Water resources permeates everyangle of life form. Without water the living creatures on this earth would not exist. Narrowingthese down to one was not a difficult to do for this report. The methods used for doing research on the topic sustainability of water in the westernUnited States included a variety of online sources. Using Salt Lake Community Colleges onlineschool databases search engines such as CQ Researcher, JSTOR and ESCOhost as helpfulstarters. The results were limited when using key words such as sustainability, water, and pair of
  7. 7. Hyde 7words like natural resources, and over population. Many finding were academic journals andonline publications of water resources. Some results on water went better than others. Most findings about sustainability ofwater were predominately about pollution and the availability of clean usable water sources inthe United States in whole, not just the western section. Most of the information found wasabout the global problem with water and its availability thorough ought the nation, this was stilltoo broad for the report. Obviously water scarcity has been an issue for many years, that is notgetting any better. Demand for fresh water is increasing with every passing day and the waterlevels across the western united States are coming down. There are signs of stress on all waterresources. The information used in this report came from local annual government reports,journals, and environmental agencies through the western United States. Good earth keeping describes a process which enables people to understand theinterdependence of all life and the repercussions of their own actions and decisions. Now, in thefuture, globally as well as locally. Together, people are helping to identify the broad goals forsustainable water systems and define some goals that can serve as indicators for making progresstoward sustainability.
  8. 8. Hyde 8 Work Cite1. U.S Census Bureau. The 2012 Statstical Abstract. 13 Oct 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 20112. Weeks, Jennifer. “Water Shortages.” CQ Researcher, 18 June 2010: 529-52. CQ Researcher. Web 4 Sept 20113. Kling, Catherine,. Wilen, James E,. Weinberg, Marca. “Water Marks and Water Quality.” JSTOR, Vol. 75. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, May 1993. Web. 5 Dec. 20114. Kenny, J.F., Barber, N.L., Hutson, S.S., Linsey, K.S., Lovelace, J.K., and Maupin, M.A., “Estimated use of water in the United States in 2005” U.S. Geological Survey Circular.1344, 52 p. Web. 8 Dec. 20115. Colleen Dwyer, U.S Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation. 2005 March. Web. 8 Dec. 2011