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Uniting to Combat Water Shortages Across the Country

Posted by Erika Cross, Strategic Communications, USDA Farm Production and Conservation in Conservation
Apr 28, 2020
A hydroponic greenhouse
A hydroponic greenhouse. USDA photo by Lance Cheung

A clean and reliable water supply is critical to our nation’s future, but freshwater is a finite resource.

Through innovation, science and proven conservation practices, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working to develop new tools and technologies to help farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners conserve and protect our natural resources, like our freshwater supply.

Water reuse has become a rapidly expanding tool in our conservation toolbox. It reclaims water from a variety of sources then treats it, allowing that water to be reused for agriculture and irrigation, potable water supplies, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes, and other uses. Water reuse can provide alternatives to tapping into precious water supplies, helping to enhance water security, sustainability and resilience.

Water reuse graphic
Water reuse graphic courtesy of EPA.

Earlier this year, through the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and agencies across government, we released the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation (Version 1) (PDF, 20 MB). Developed in close collaboration with communities, utilities, industry and agriculture, this plan will work to proactively implement water reuse across the nation.

The Plan identifies 37 specific actions across 11 strategic themes spearheaded by senior leadership in government and the private sector. It will leverage new and existing partnerships and generate action through more than 200 implementation milestones.

“Water reuse can help conserve our water resources while boosting our water security for the future,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “This collaborative partnership and strategic action plan are a testament to our collective commitment to this critical effort.”

USDA’s successful Conservation Innovation Grant program, which has had 750 projects since 2004, is a key part of this plan. CIG funds innovative ideas, tools and technologies to help protect our natural resources on private lands. Today, NRCS announced its focus on project proposals related to water reuse and several other priority topics. Visit the CIG website for more information.

“With 40 states expecting some freshwater shortages in the next ten years, solutions like USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grant program are critical to ensuring a sufficient supply of water in the future,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “By building accountability and milestones into the National Water Reuse Action Plan, EPA and its partners are committed to helping strengthen the sustainability, security and resilience of our nation’s water resources.”

“Our Nation’s water and energy systems are interdependent. In some regions, access to fresh water supplies has become a challenge this Administration is working to overcome,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “We are pleased to support the Water Reuse Action Plan through our Water Security Grand Challenge, working together with our partners to develop innovative technological solutions to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.”

“Providing reliable water supplies for a growing and changing nation requires using new tools and building new partnerships,” said Assistant Secretary of Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior Timothy Petty, PhD. “Water reuse technologies and partnership with USDA, EPA and others, is vital to the Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Geological Survey’s mission to develop drought resilience and diversify water supplies at the basin and local level nationwide.”

Category/Topic: Conservation

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Comments

Louise LeGouis
May 04, 2020

This is a very timely and useful story with great insights on one of the key "Rs" of water conservation (recycle, reuse, reduce). I'm just a little disappointed in the use of the photo selected to illustrate this story because clearly the irrigation of ornamental flowers should not be a priority wherever water shortages are an issue. How about a story on the "R" of reduction and determining which crops should benefit from irrigation and which should not where supplies are critical? Thanks!