Some of you know I live in the desert SW, specifically in Cochise County, AZ. We are officially in an extended drought, like most of our neighbors in NM, CO, NV and CA. All of us share the larger watersheds of the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers. This year we have seen warnings that flows in the Colorado watershed will be restricted for the lower Colorado River. Tucson recently met their recharge goals ahead of time, but now we are facing a reduced allocation from the Colorado, which means the recharge rate in coming months will likely be reduced, just when we are getting this water supply thing in hand.
Look at Orange County, CA. they have a recharge program similar to Tucson, but with some differences. They look at reusing more of their water than we do. While AZ has some of the most innovative greywater legislation, cities like Tucson are just beginning to use that legislation. Industrial cooling water is often potable water, but these closed systems don't really need potable water, greywater would work just as well yet few large cooling installations use this kind of water.
The specter of reusing water for most folks seems unthinkable, but we are already are reusing the water, we just let the earth filter the water from the Central Arizona Project, which originates from the Colorado. We pump out the water after the earth filters it. Yet this takes time and the ability for us to recharge that water over and over contains a lot of loss through evaporation. If we begin to look at some of the programs being put in place by municipalities and watershed regions where direct reprocessing of waste water to potable water is providing significant amounts of water for these service areas.
Could we, as residents of a continuing drought plagued area, become one of the leading innovators of water management and use? Maybe, yet, it appears today we continue to repeat the same wasteful actions we've been taking for centuries, in spite of the real possibility of extending the livelihoods of the residents of the Santa Cruz River valley by learning how to conserve and reuse the basis of life.