GEOG 431
Geography of Water Resources

Conservation Policies


In order to protect the world's remaining freshwater resources, effective conservation policies need to be created. California, a state with ample freshwater in the northern part of the state and a deficit of water in the heavily-populated southern part of the state, has become a national leader in creating strong conservation policies. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is promoting water conservation statewide to combat one of the longest recorded droughts in the state. Most of the general policies can be applied universally throughout the world.

  1. One way to protect water resources is to put financial resources into building newer, larger reservoirs that have the capability to hold water in an indoor environment to prevent it from evaporating or dropping to the water table.
  2. Protecting sensitive environments that are integral to the water resource. From the source to the river delta, policies need to be put in place that prevent excessive withdrawal, development, and contamination. There need to be substantial punishments for violating laws. These punishments would deter businesses, industries, and individuals from breaking water policy laws. A no-build zone should be established for the appropriate area around extremely important areas such as the source or where tributaries meet.
  3. Tax-incentives and grants should be given to industries that use less freshwater-intensive technologies. Grants should be given to universities, think-tanks, governmental institutions and private companies who are researching and creating technologies that require less water.
  4. Water conservation will be managed by locally elected members of the community to protect their area's resources. People will have a greater sense of attachment and care more about saving their local area's habitat rather than somewhere at the other end of the state. State governments will work together with local groups to protect their water resources. Federal money should be invested in statewide projects to bring water to those areas most in need.
  5. Pricing for water should be more heavily regulated to reflect the use, necessity, amount, and location of the buyer in relation to a water resource. Greater accountability towards governments and people should be enforced to ensure that water resources are protected and not exploited.
  6. Programs should be incentivized to encourage people to follow water policies.
  7. “Actions that reduce applied water use but do not result in net water supply benefits to the water basin may be justified if they can be shown to advance other local policy objectives, including stream flow, water quality, ecosystem restoration, energy, or flood control.”
  8. Previous water rights need to be respected and only altered for the necessity of the water resource's preservation.
  9. Urban water use and agricultural water policies need to become more efficient through technological increases. Irrigation/urban practices should reuse, recycle, or use less of a water resource.
  10. Water conservation practices need to be taught to children at young ages and persistent advertising/ incentive policies need to be directed towards adults to change the mindset of the populations towards water resources. People need to realize how important and integral water resources are to their lifestyle.

If you are interested in reading more about the subject of conservation, you can access the full Association of California Water Agencies' report on Water Conservation Policy Principles (accessed 7-23-14):

Other ways to enhance water resources could include creating a new governmental body specific to water, give greater authority to the UN to implement water-related laws, invest in technology to access deep groundwater resources, and further develop desalination technology. Extensive lists and further information can be found on any or all of these web pages.