People don't want to use water so much as accomplish specific
tasks like washing clothes, growing food, or watering gardens.
Improving efficiency and conservation is often the most economically,
politically, and environmentally responsible way to increase supply
and save for the future. And by cutting waste, we can ensure that
our economy and the environment can continue to thrive.
Why worry, a skeptical reader might ask? Water is cheap and plentiful
in much of the industrial world, and the methods we have long
used to store, purify, and convey it are effective.
The problem is that we are approaching the limits of our resources
in some places. And to complicate matters, climate change, aging
infrastructure, watershed modification, chemical pollution, and
population growth also threaten water supplies– even in
the United States.
In short, business as usual can’t continue. We need to
find a new way of thinking about water. To this end, the Pacific
Institute has long been involved with a range of water efficiency
and conservation projects.
One of our most promising projects estimated how much water California
can conserve using currently available efficiency technology.
Despite the progress California has already made in improving
water efficiency, the report, "Waste
Not, Want Not," estimates that up to one-third of California's
current urban water use -- more than 2.3 million acre-feet --
can be saved using existing technology. And at least 85% of this
savings (over 2 million acre-feet) can be saved at costs below
what it will cost to tap into new sources of supply and without
the social, environmental, and economic impacts that any major
water project will bring.
Other reports on this subject have looked at successful
examples of water-saving
efficiency and conservation techniques (PDF) and laid
out a sustainable
vision for California and the Colorado