The Western Water Crisis: What Can Be Done?

The plain fact is that Earth has all the water it is ever going to have. In this century, there are no obvious sites of new water to tap, and no sources awaiting exploitation. While battles over water, how much we have, and who owns it have dominated our policymaking, it is ultimately up to us to work together to solve problems now instead of waiting until the situation is even more critical. The focus now should be on advocating for water conservation, handling water quality threats such as groundwater pollution, and improving water storage.

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The water level in this stockpond is steadily dropping.

For individual farmers and ranchers who are not already in the grips of an exceptional drought, there are several steps that can be considered as part of an overall strategy to mitigate the effects of a reduced water supply.

For ranchers, any water sources, however small, can be useful in any year, but are particularly vital during a drought. Small springs and seeps can be developed, the water stored and pumped to where it’s needed. Even a flow of only 0.5 gallons/minute produces 720 gallons/day which is enough water for 48 cows with calves. Small ponds near seasonal streams can be constructed which will fill during periods of high water. If they are fenced, they can be opened later in the season when the stream has dried up. Stock and large irrigation ponds should be considered even during a drought, because once rains return, those ponds will fill with runoff water that can be stored.In all cases, ponds should be lined with a waterproof material to reduce seepage, and care should be taken to use a durable liner that is resistant to UV degradation, particularly if the pond is likely to dry out.

BTL Liners has decades of experience in designing, fabricating and installing custom liners for reservoirs, dams, ponds and other surface water storage projects. Our liners are available in a variety of grades and thicknesses, suited to different conditions and budgets. Our newest product, RPEL-30, is so highly UV-resistant that it is warranted for use even when ponds are expected to empty periodically. It can be fabricated in single panels as large as 50,000 SF (over an acre), minimizing risks of seam failure and leaks. Call us today at 541-447-0712 to discuss your specific requirements with our experts.

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