Water: The Earth’s surface is covered with it. Unfortunately, 99.9% of that water is saltwater and cannot be used without extreme processing. This means Humans have to use water for almost every industrial and agricultural process and the amount of water we use is staggering.
Our profligate use has begun to negatively alter ecosystems around us. As rainfall changes, our nation begins to struggle to deal with a future with less water than it has had in the past. California uses 13.87 trillion gallons of water per year or measured daily, the equivalent of 38 billion gallons per DAY.
• What are the largest users of water and can they be cut back? Are there alternatives to using freshwater for agriculture?
• What are the plans for dealing with this challenge as the snowpack diminishes and periods of rainfall have become non-existent?
• What is virtual water?
• What is YOUR water footprint? Let’s find out on Climate Change By the Elements!
• What are the largest uses of water in the state?
Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural and 10% urban. Though this varies depending on wet and dry years. Some of the water used can be returned to rivers and ground water and can be used again.
Environmental water is any water which is protected under federal and state laws to maintain wildlife habitats, wetlands and wildlife preserves. Half of the environmental water use occurs in rivers in the states north coast. Such waters are isolated from major agricultural and urban areas and are protected from significant future development. However, in dry years, water is redirected to reserves for supplies for farms and cities.
Agricultural water use is falling, while economic value of farm production is growing. More than nine million acres of farmland in California is irrigated, representing 80% of all water used for businesses and homes. Irrigated crops for high revenue crops, nuts, grapes and other fruit have increased since 1980 from 16% to 33% in 2015 (21% to 45% in the Central Valley region). The return on the use of water has also increased state revenues by 38% while reducing the use of water 14%. Efficiency in water use has helped the economy continue to grow but the rest of the state’s economy is outpacing farming which accounts for 2% of the gross state product, down from 5% in the 1960s.
Despite population growth, total water use is in decline reflecting the use of price incentives and mandatory installation of water saving technologies such as low-flow toilets and shower heads. Such efforts reduced per capita water use from 231 gallons per day to 146 gallons per day. Much of the recent savings came from reducing landscape watering, which makes up HALF of all urban water use.
REF: PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA
• How much water does Los Angeles use in a year?
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power indicates the city of Los Angeles estimated water use of 2.15 trillion gallons of water consumed between June 2015 and February 2016.
REF: Los Angeles Department Of Water And Power and the California Water Board
• A hamburger needs 660 gallons of water to produce.
REF: Water Footprint Calculator
CLIMATE CHANGE BY THE ELEMENTS, Now with Coronavirus
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