Westerners in many states are using less water. However that’s not the case in the Mountain West. In Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, home usage went up; in Montana it stayed the same. Experts say these figures are based less on population growth and more on state water policies.
Residential water usage in the United States is going down according to the most recent 5-year report from the U.S. Geological Survey. Cheryl Dieter with the USGS said, “a lot of those reductions can be attributed to federal, state or local policies focused on water and energy efficiency.”
Taylor Graham with the conservation non-profit Utah Rivers Council agreed. He said that a lack of smart water policies could explain why Mountain West states are bucking the downward trend.
“Residential water use makes up a much smaller portion of the pie than say agricultural water use,” Graham said. “But it’s something that we as residents of the West can really make a difference in pretty easily.”
Graham said as the Mountain West continues to grow, states will have to start setting more policies to reduce water use, like increasing price rates and promoting more efficient technologies.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.