As the 2015 Paris climate talks were wrapping up and timed with the release of the National Academies of Sciences report above, the Obama Administration announced an ambitious plan patterned after their solar power push to focus the country on water: Efficiency, reuse and breakthrough R&D.
As evidence that increasing water efficiency is an effective strategy, the administration shows EPA’s WaterSense partnership that has helped save 1.1 trillion gallons of water and $21.7 billion in water and energy bills since its start in 2006. The Department of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge promotes water efficient technology in the commercial sector.
Desalination and water reuse (aka purple pipe water) are key components to boosting supply. The National Research Council has estimated that reuse of the 12 billion gallons of municipal wastewater effluent daily through reclamation, has the potential to supply about 6% of the estimated U.S. water use total, or 27% of public supply of fresh water. (National Research Council, Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater).
The moonshot for water also includes plans to develop a Natural Resource Investment Center at the Department of Interior that will facilitate market mechanisms to provide water management flexibility and create water efficiency investment incentives. The Administration will encourage the development of water exchange and transfer in the western United States through regional water markets and water banks. (December 2015)