Challenges for Water Management Identified by New USGS Report

The USGS has released a report that examines Western water availability, the modern role for science, and the value of monitoring and research to ensure an adequate water supply for the Nation’s future.

The USGS has released a report that examines Western water availability, the modern role for science, and the value of monitoring and research to ensure an adequate water supply for the Nation’s future.

“Effective water management in the West is challenged by increasing and often competing needs among various water users: agricultural use and consumption by cities, maintaining water reservoirs and ensuring in-stream flows for aquatic ecosystems, industrial and energy production, and recreation,” said Mark Anderson, USGS scientist and co-author of the report. “Scientific information becomes a crucial factor for resource managers to support their decision-making.”

Such factors as a demographic shift, climate variability (including the potential for severe sustained droughts), climate change, water-rights issues, depletion of ground water in storage, introduction of new storage and water use technologies, and protection of endangered species, add to a growing complexity for water management. Several of the key scientific challenges are examined in this report, including the determination of sustainable ground-water use and the physical habitat needs of ecosystems and individual endangered species.

According to USGS Associate Director for Water, Robert Hirsch, “A constant and assured supply of fresh water is critical to sustain our economy, our communities, our ecosystems and our Nation. This USGS report shows how the role and priorities for science to support effective water management are changing to meet current and future issues.”

The report, Water Availability for the Western United States-- Key Scientific Challenges (Circular 1261), can be obtained by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS or viewed online at http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/circ1261/.

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