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Water is essential to all life, and every aspect of our lives depends in some way upon water. From all facets of food production, to domestic and industrial usage, to environmental needs, water is a critical common denominator. In the arid Western United States, this precious resource is especially valuable because it is so scarce. Most Western lands typically receive far less annual precipitation than that received by Eastern and Southern states. Early Western settlers quickly discovered that survival in this area was extremely difficult because rainfall was neither plentiful nor reliable. The transformation of this dry, barren desert region into productive farmland, and thriving towns and cities began with the construction of facilities to store and transport water.

photo: Nambe River

Today, the many benefits of controlling water in this way are evident in the extensive development that has taken place throughout the West over the past 100 years. Huge cities have been created and millions of people live, work, and recreate in this desert region. But, as the West continues to grow, we must face the problem of continually increasing demands on a finite supply of water. This includes human population needs and the needs of the environment.

Unless highly efficient water usage practices can be developed and maintained in the West, it will not be possible to provide the water needed to sustain Western ecosystems as well as economic and population growth. So how will these increasing and diverse needs be met? By each one of us doing what we can to use water wisely. The responsibility to protect and conserve this vital resource to ensure that a sufficient water supply will continue to exist, rests with all of us.


Last updated: December 6, 2006