Published: March 2014
Authors: Pacific Institute
- In California, an estimated 19% of the state’s electricity use and 32% of all natural gas consumption are related to water. For perspective, consider that leaving the hot water running for five minutes uses as much energy as operating a 60-W light bulb for 14 hours.
- Up to one-third of California’s current urban water use — more than 2.3 million acre-feet — can be saved using existing technology, such as replacing old, inefficient water-using devices with high-efficiency models in our homes and businesses, as well as replacing some lawns with low-water-use plants.
- At least 85% of urban water use savings 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.
- The water footprint of the average Californian is 1,500 gallons per day, slightly less than the average American but considerably more than the average resident in other developed countries or in the rest of the world.
- More than 90% of California’s water footprint is associated with agricultural products: meat and dairy products have especially large water footprints due to the water-intensive feed required to raise the animals.
- California can save up to 4.5 – 6 million acre-feet of water each year by expanding the use of efficient irrigation technologies and management practices.
- Agriculture and other human activities contribute to contamination of public and private water supplies. The California State Water Board sampled 181 domestic wells in Tulare County in 2006 and found that 40% of those tested had nitrate levels above the legal limit.
Sustainably managing the world’s water, planning for climate change, ensuring communities have a voice in decision-making, eliminating environmental inequities, supporting a thriving economy and environment: these are the critical challenges of our time. And these are the issues the Pacific Institute researches, influences, and responds to, impacting what happens today – with a vision for the future.
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