Water expert, Sharlene Leurig, director of Ceres (a Boston based non-profit organization) sustainable water infrastructure program, recently stated that Austin’s dependence on the Colorado River as its only source of water is a “critical vulnerability”.
She then went on to claim that Austin was the only city in the Western United States to rely on a single source of water.
This is a big claim, and the team at PolitiFact Texas have sought to find out whether or not it is true.
In their search for answers they surveyed ten Western U.S. cities in arid areas prone to drought: Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco.
Interestingly, they found that:
“Leurig said Austin is the only city in an arid landscape in the western United States dependent on a single source of water.
That’s not so, as she acknowledged to us, and even if you limit the focus to big cities, some of those–such as San Francisco and arguably San Antonio, which seems to overcount its sources–get more than four-fifths of their water from a source.
On balance, we find this claim Half True.”
While PolitiFact proved their point about the statement being overreaching, it is interesting to note just how many cities in potential areas of drought rely so heavily on just one source of water.
How can these cities realistically redesign their systems to incorporate more sources, and is this necessary? The near future will make the answers to these questions clearer.
Inframanage.com notes that the answer to these questions is part of the level of service, future demand and risk analysis for cities, municipalities and water authorities. Secondary or alternative water sources add resilience to a network, and lessen the risk of loss of supply.
The provision of secondary or alternative water water sources can be constrained by the availability of sources, and the cost of provision, which can be high.
The presentation of information balancing of cost, risk, resilience, demand and delivery of service is part of infrastructure asset management planning, with the asset management plan being the document to record this analysis.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Seeger via Flickr Creative Commons Licence.