Water Supplies in the Southwest Making a Finite Supply Sustainable for a Growing Population
MentorSnyder, Dr. Shane
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAcross the world, populations continue to grow while water supplies stay fixed. In the American Southwest, water supplies are at an all time low, yet warm, favorable conditions continue to lure residents to the area. With some of the country’s lowest fresh water reserves, it is imperative that changes are made to water usage trends and associated energy inefficiencies. An analysis of water usage in Tucson was conducted to evaluate potential solutions for reducing consumption and to correspondingly shrink energy usage. Case studies were investigated, census numbers were used to roughly calculate statistics, existing knowledge on water conservation techniques were researched, and alternative water filtration as well as distribution systems were scrutinized for their viability amongst current infrastructure. The potential to reduce water usage is greatest with the largest user of water in Tucson, the single-family residence. On average the single-family residence is capable of effectively saving nearly 25,000 gallons of water per year with efficient fixtures, another 25,000 gallons per year by reducing outdoor water use by half, and another 10,625 gallons by utilizing rainwater harvesting. Combine those savings and multiply them by the 225,000-240,000 single-family residents estimated to be in Tucson and the savings reach more than five billion gallons a year, effectively almost cutting water consumption in Tucson by a fifth. Further, to keep remaining usage impacts negligible, implementation of an indirect or direct potable water reuse system could satisfy populations for decades by reusing water that would normally be discarded as effluent. Water consumption must be curved so that it can satisfy a growing population’s needs. Amongst residents of Tucson, single-family residences have the greatest potential to reduce water and associated energy needs. Through conservation techniques, water harvesting, reducing outdoor water usage, and potable reuse, limited water supplies can satisfy future generations to come.
DescriptionSustainable Built Environments Senior Capstone Project