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  Civil Works Strategic Plan

Increasing Demand on Water Resources

Regional water supplies are under severe pressure from drought and environmental change. Simultaneously, regional demand is increasing for water resources as well as water-dependent food and energy resources.

Why is water supply important?

Water supply is not only essential for life, but is also the lifeblood of many businesses and industries as well. As such, there is a constant, ever-growing demand on regional water resources. The most obvious impact we see is to the many reservoirs that the Southwestern Division manages for flood control, water supply, and recreation. As more and more public and private interests continue to find new ways to compete for the limited available water resources, the need for cooperation has never been more important.

What Impacts our water supply?

For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the varied interests or uses associated with our reservoirs continues to grow. While many of USACE's reservoirs were created primarily for flood risk mitigation, they have also become major source of water supply for local communities, provide water for hydropower generation, and are extremely popular recreation centers. Each of these uses are important and require USACE and its partners to carefully manage the available water with care.

How do strains on water supply affect the region?

While most of the reservoirs were created for flood risk mitigation, their water supply missions are expanding and growing. As regional metropolitan areas grow up around the reservoirs (Northwest Arkansas), the strain on water supplies continues to grow. With more people and more businesses moving into these areas, the demand for clean water for drinking and business use grows. On Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas alone, the average daily demand for water is 55 million gallons. On a peak usage day those numbers can reach as high as 90 million gallons. In areas such as the metro around Beaver Lake, water demand is expected to continue to grow. The Southwestern Division is home to many of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation, and with this incredible growth comes opportunity, industry, and increased demands on water. As and more specialized water needs impact not only reservoir levels, they also overtask the aquifers below ground. Water quality is further impacted by pollution in water run-off from urban areas and burdens communities as they have to work harder to make water safe for drinking. As our region continues to see increased growth and urbanization, there are also continued impacts from extreme weather and drought. 

How will CWSP and Integrated Water Resource Management Help?

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) would support multi-purpose projects, water management coordination, and basin studies across the region. Everyone who uses, regulates, and monitors water in a basin needs to come to gather and discuss needs and priorities in order to work toward a solution that serves everyone.

Water is very dynamic and used in almost everything we do. Unfortunately, most of us don't consider that every drop of water is connected. We do little to manage water quality and quantity in a holistic manner. Integrated Water Resource Management is an approach to understand water systems and drive policies and everyday usage to maximize multiple-use potential and ensure future sustainability. 

Water is a system with multiple inputs and outputs. Recognizing the interconnected nature of water allows us to extend the resource. Integrated Water Resource Management brings different organizations with different water uses together to see how they can collaborate and maximize water use. In its simplest form, Integrated Water Resource Management looks at all water needs and finds a way to meet those needs using the least amount of water. We see this with cities that regulate and establish natural buffers around waterways to help reduce flooding, improve water quality, and improve aquatic habitat. We se it in developments that use water-catch systems so rainwater can be used to water the grass and landscaping.

We need everyone to think about their water needs and usage as a connected system. When we look at water as a system, we can begin to look at how the system can meet multiple needs at once. In addition, water resource agencies as well as local and state governments can share data, information, and planning documents with one another to assess potential mutual benefits of water management. When we recognize water is constantly being used and reused as it moves through its system, we can develop plans that makes its multiple purposes most effective.

We want to work with you in solving complex water resource issues. Reach out to us today! Let us know what your agency, city, state, group, or community can do it help.

Strategic Response Plan

Civil Works Strategic Plan