Unsustainable population growth projected
to stress California water supply
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
July 13, 2006
The demand for water for outdoor uses such as landscaping is
expected to increase across California over the next 25 years,
potentially stressing the state's water-delivery systems, according
to a report released yesterday by the Public Policy Institute
The greatest increase in water demand is projected to take place
in the hotter, inland areas of the state.
"Lawns are one of the biggest culprits," in the projected
increase in urban water demand over the next few decades, according
to the report.
Across the state, more than half of all residential water is
used for outdoor purposes, the study found.
The rate of population growth, the type of housing under construction,
and the overall climate are all factors in how much water is consumed
for outdoor purposes in different parts of the state, according
to Ellen Hanak, one of the authors of the study, which is titled,
"Lawns and Water Demand in California.''
Residences in inland areas of the state use two to three times
the amount of water for outdoor uses as residences in coastal
regions of the state, the report found. This is the result of
the growing presence of single-family, as opposed to multi-family,
residential units in inland regions, as well as the larger lots
-- and lawns-- that are more common in inland areas.
The amount of water used for outdoor purposes is also higher
in inland regions because those areas tend to be hotter and dryer.
Water demand is expected to increase faster in inland counties
in part because the population is growing at a faster rate inland
than in coastal regions like the Bay Area, according Hanak.
Within the Bay Area, though, recent growth has also been heaviest
in the warmer, inland areas -- such as the eastern portions of
Alameda, and Solano counties -causing water demand to increase,
according to Hanak.
Between 1990 and 2000, water use in the Bay Area increased by
7 percent because of the growth in population and construction
of housing in the eastern portion of the state, Hanak said.
The recent construction of more multi-family housing in the Bay
Area, though, has helped mitigate the increase in water demand
in the region, according to Hanak.
Many areas of the state should institute outdoor water conservation
efforts over the next few decades, the study found. Potential
water conservation policies include: using plants that need less
water for residential landscaping; making water irrigation systems
more efficient; and instituting a tiered-rate water pricing system,
according to Hanak.
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