Water is fundamental to life for people, plants, and animals. Our programs span science, policy, direct land and water protection, habitat management and working with local communities and public agencies to achieve sustainable water management.Photo Credit: © Hal Malde
Our rivers, streams and wetlands support vibrant human economies and a high quality of life. However, our growth has come at the expense of our environment, especially the loss of river systems throughout the state. Today, we better understand the importance of our rivers and wetlands for people and the environment and the need to manage water in a sustainable manner. With increasing demands and uncertain supplies, balancing the needs of people and nature calls for new approaches to water management to be put in place today.
A clean and sustainable water supply is a basic human need. Protecting our water supplies so they are sustainable for both people and the environment is also critical to our future. Our rivers and streams provide many benefits and essential services. They bring water from the mountains to our urban centers and agricultural areas. They supply power, support tourism, provide for recreation, and maintain habitat for wildlife. The debate is not about people vs nature. We depend upon the benefits nature provides free on a daily basis. Maintaining those benefits requires people to make wise decisions today to ensure we have choices in the future.
In a 2004 study by The Nature Conservancy that compared current and historical data, we found that 35% of our natural perennial flowing rivers had been altered or lost altogether as a result of dams, diversions, and groundwater pumping.
In a study recently published in the journal PLoS ONE, we looked at how future water demand may affect flow in our rivers. The major findings from that study were:
Why? Because developing water policy, and planning and implementing new management strategies are complex and take time. Meanwhile, impacts to rivers accumulate over time, making it difficult and costly to reverse the loss of river flows.
The Nature Conservancy’s programs span science and policy development to land/water protection and management and working with local communities, institutions and public agencies to develop sustainable water management practices. Below are examples of our work to promote sustainable water management.
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