Blog  /  April 2017  /  As Water Flows to Demand, Questions of Conservation & Equity Exist

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Region Six is a diverse region that covers several states with several unique water stresses. From drought conditions in California and its race to introduce smart technology to improve water efficiency to Nevada and regulatory concerns, Region Six truly runs the gamut. Below is a breakdown of all the state represented in Region Six including: California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii.

Being a state with diverse regionalism, California will use a mixed approach for sustainable water use given the recent drought conditions. Forced to invest in water efficient technologies, major infrastructure and water supply projects like the Delta Tunnels will continue. Irrigation networks will continue to turn to recycled/reclaimed water, requiring extensive equipment upgrades. Other areas to notice are engineering/design services for flood control especially after breaches at Oroville Dam and within the California Delta Levee System. Movement to upgrade to smart technology, i.e. SCADA at disinfection facility, brackish water recycling to protect the supply of fresh drinking, and further construction of desalination facilities. It is questionable just how California regulators will evolve the water conservation mandates triggered by drought conditions and the adverse effects of climate change.

In Arizona, monitoring the political and regulatory climate, meaning upstream-downstream water rights claims, will continue to be important. The implementation of “direct potable reuse,” might become legal. Triggered by drought and natural aridness, brackish groundwater recycling and desalination are also topics to watch. Trends to note range from storm water management to groundwater pumping to the effects of climate change. Depending on precipitation and capacity levels of Lake Mead and other reservoirs water levels, could trigger federal rules mandating radical cuts in usage. Municipalities and water agencies seek infrastructure upgrades, and opportunities for the supply of treatment chemicals. So, again, the question of supply, storage and transmission will be critical in Arizona, especially in irrigation dependent industries like agriculture.

Nevada sees continual development of regulatory policy and legal parameters concerning right to water supply, preservation of natural resources, balancing the multiple uses of currently below capacity reservoirs, and continual supply of fresh water required by large urban centers.

Trending in Colorado is evidence of planning ahead for water shortage and effects of climate change especially due to drought-stricken Colorado River. Two examples illustrate how Colorado has shown its own initiative in water conservation. One is called Minute 319; it is a cooperative water management plan under which Mexico has been storing water in Lake Mead to help bolster the reservoir’s falling water levels. Second is the Pilot System Conservation Program aiming to conserve water through storage initiatives and demand reduction.

 

Trending in Hawaii are ongoing efforts to monitor water quality and natural resources. Salinity in freshwater ponds, upgrades to wastewater facilities and equipment, and, expansion of the WaterSmart platform that lets customers take control of water usage, are top priority as well.

How drought conditions and water supply in New Mexico are managed will be critical in both basins of the Colorado River. Water-wise the state is divided between an Upper Basin that includes Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and parts of Arizona, and a Lower Basin of California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Utah. Regional coordination will be necessary to ensure fresh, readily available water in the future.

In Utah, managing water supply with population growth means a greater push for conservation, developing more localized supplies, and capturing agricultural runoff for reuse. Like other states in the Southwest, significant snowpack and rain will recharge reservoirs and water basins. More data collection on water use for reliable future planning could mean more metering and its equipment, or consultants to adjust pricing structures

Five projects representative of the trends seen currently in the American Southwest are represented by request for bids or proposals, and related financing opportunities. For design-build projects there is groundwater replenishment and cities seeking SCADA and other water flow monitoring equipment. For recycled and/or reclaimed water, there is demand for advanced water treatment technology. For irrigation, installation of alluvial wells, equipping potable water wells, and general retrofitting equipment for conservation are noticeable. Lot of efforts are being made to prevent flooding and storm damage, especially in creek and flood plain restorations. Lastly, options for water acquisition and storage is central to water resource planning for many municipalities, utilities, and water agencies.

In the American Southwest, the underlying questions of water quality and supply are dominant, yet are subject to the climate outlook Innovation and regionalism will be important in design engineering of water and wastewater infrastructure. Water supply and restrictions are interlinked with the drought conditions experienced throughout the American Southwest.