Tonhis story Originally by wired And copied here as Climate Service Desk Cooperation.

Lake Mead, which provides water for 25 million people in the western United States, has shrunk to 36% of its capacity. A rural community in California has No water at all After its well ruptured in early June.Farmland is left unused because farmers sell their water allocation instead of growing crops, resulting in a reduction in the country’s food supply was in danger.

As the West withers under extreme drought, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives proposed Human resources 4099, The bill will direct the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan to provide funding for water recovery projects worth US$750 million in 17 western states by 2027. Introduction At the end of June, it is currently under consideration by the House Natural Resources Committee. )

“This is starting to become our new normal-88% of the western region is in some degree of drought,” said representative Susie Lee. Introduction Bills. “Lake Mead is at the lowest water level since the completion of the Hoover Dam. The Colorado River has been dry for more than two decades.”

The population and economy of the western United States have been booming for a long time, putting tremendous pressure on the dwindling water supply. “I think we have more people—one. The area of ​​agriculture has increased—two,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano, who introduced the bill. “Then climate change is exacerbating this problem.”

Legislators say that part of the solution is to fund the construction of more facilities that can recycle waste water from our sinks, toilets and showers. You may think this is vulgar and absurd, but this technology already exists-in fact, it has been around for half a century. This process is actually quite simple. The treatment facility receives wastewater and adds microorganisms that consume organic matter. Then the water is pumped into a special membrane to filter out harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. More precisely, the water is then irradiated with ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms. The resulting water may actually be too pure for humans: if you drink it, these things may filter out minerals from your body, so the facility must re-add minerals. (I used to Drank the final product. It tastes like…water. )

The recovered H2O can be pumped underground into the aquifer, then pumped out again when needed, purified again, and then delivered to the customer. Or it can be used for non-drinking purposes, such as in agriculture or industrial processes.

Basically, you take the wastewater that you would normally treat and discharge into the sea—actually wasted—and put it back into the land water cycle to make it available to people again. Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Institute for Water Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “It is so important as an element of the water supply portfolio, partly because of its reliability.” “As long as urban centers exist and Wastewater can be treated as it is produced. It provides a reliable source of additional water supply-even in dry years when supplies are limited and it is difficult or impossible to develop alternative sources.”

In a sense, recycled water is also financing: inject it into the ground to replenish aquifers, and store it for use in times of drought. This may be particularly important in the western United States, as climate change makes droughts more severe and becomes more severe with dynamic changes in rainfall. Modeling by climate scientists It shows that the storm will be more intense in the future, but the frequency of arrival will be reduced. By the end of the century, snow accumulation on the mountains-which usually accumulates most of the water in the west until it merges into spring runoff-is expected to be reduced by about half.

“Our hydrological cycle will become more unpredictable,” said project manager Rafael Villegas. Next move At the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the department has been recycling water for non-potable water reuse since the 1970s. “Plus population growth, not only here in California, but also in the sources of water—Nevada, Arizona, and Northern California—you can expect additional demand for these systems. So we are exhausted, right? ? Then we have to start thinking, how do we use existing water to improve efficiency?”

Currently in California, approximately 10% of municipal and industrial wastewater is recycled. The goal of Operation NEXT is to upgrade the Hyperion water recycling plant to recover 100% of wastewater by 2035 and produce enough purified water to support the lives of nearly 1 million families in Los Angeles.

The technology is there—just deploy it throughout the West. “This is not a moon landing plan, if you want,” said Brad Coffey, a water resource manager for the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, who has worked with the Los Angeles County Health District on a project. Water cycle demonstration facility“This is actually putting together building blocks that have been tested and proven in many other facilities and applying them on a regional scale.”

Although water recycling is not a novel technology, it is not a simple or cheap process. Retrofitting wastewater facilities for efficient recycling takes time, and the cost of building a facility from scratch can be as high as billions of dollars. Once the facility is up and running, pushing all the water through the filter membrane and other equipment requires a lot of energy, which is also expensive.

Nonetheless, Villegas said the greater costs will be used up. “If we wait to take action, it will be too late,” Villegas said. Although the bill will provide $750 million in funding for projects over the next six years, it will take longer to actually build these facilities and bring them online. “Projects like this take decades,” he continued. “So if you react after a few decades, you are already behind by eight goals.”

Water recycling is just one strategy for adapting the western United States to climate emergencies that cause water emergencies. Since the 1980s, per capita water consumption in Southern California has fallen by 40%, thanks in large part to changes in building codes, but also to changes in residents’ behavior, such as replacing lawns with drought-tolerant native plants. The city is also adapting.For example, the Los Angeles Water and Power Authority has been experimenting to turn barriers and roadsides into Green catchment area Rainwater is directed into underground tanks, so Los Angeles does not have to import so much water from Northern California and the Colorado River.

Although these individual and local efforts can help reduce demand and increase supply, the $750 million provided by the Federal Reserve will be a huge incentive to build recycling infrastructure, which will help the West survive climate change. “We are seeing climate change and the extent of the changes brought about by long-lasting droughts-it has nothing to do with how many gallons are needed for each toilet flush,” Kofi said. “This is indeed a broader issue, and we must also address it from the supply side.”


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