Interior Department Launches WaterSMART Initiative

In February, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, signed a Secretarial Order establishing a new water sustainability strategy for the United States called WaterSMART (SMART stands for ‘Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow’). "The federal government's existing water policies and programs simply aren't built for 21st century pressures on water supplies," Salazar said. "Population growth, climate change, rising energy demands, environmental needs, and aging infrastructure are just some of the risks to drinking water supplies.” Climate change alone is anticipated to reduce water flow in the Colorado River by 20 percent. The WaterSMART Secretarial Order has several parts, all of which are focused on improving water conservation and helping water and resource managers make wise decisions about water use. Among other initiatives is a water footprint reduction program for facilities and water-consuming operations to achieve and exceed the goal established by President Obama to reduce overall consumption of potable water by 26 percent by 2020 and industrial, landscaping, and agricultural water by 20 percent by 2020. As part of his order, Salazar announced that he is directing the Department to increase available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the western United States by 350,000 acre-feet by 2012.