11 October 2011

Contest entry: Wyoming's big flows

Goal: Give the best example of the end of abundance in water and how people addressed the problem.

JM writes:

The capital city of Wyoming, Cheyenne, is a town of small population by most standards (59,466 per 2010 census).

The water supply for the municipal system is derived from local surface water and groundwater sources and a transbasin diversion of surface water. As most water systems are experiencing, there is a lack of supply to meet demand. The municipality has, under legally authorized action, began a tertiary recovery and re-use program to use treated effluent for watering of recreation areas within the municipal boundaries. This in itself is nothing new and the city is probably behind in the reuse game.

However, what I wanted to share is the down stream consequences of water reuse. Historically the effluent had been discharged to a surface water drainage and the water then served to recharge aquifers tapped by irrigation wells or as direct diversion by senior surface water rights.

My point is management decisions transcend local economics, local political notions, and have real impact on real people. Intended or not. Water flows down hill (or in my world down gradient) and so do the problems. We either pay upfront or we pay at the end, but we pay none the less.

We must as managers and promoters of management strategies remember to look at the big picture.
Other entries: TEoA in Mexico City Harvesting rainwater in Brazil The Great Lakes wake-up call Time for toilet to tap

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