West needs to conserve, recycle for more water

By Steve Lawrence, The Associated Press
Wednesday July 17, 2002

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE— Drought-stricken Western states need to look to water banking, conservation, desalinization and recycling as ways to help increase water supplies, an Interior Department official said Tuesday. 

“Obviously when the pie is bigger or we can reduce some of our needs it does help solve some of the conflicts” over water use, Kit Kimball told a group of Western legislators. 

Kimball, Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s representative to the Western states, said the Bureau of Reclamation “is ready and willing” to build more water projects in the West, but the fate of those projects is up to Congress and the citizens of those states. 

“We think there are other ways to increase water supplies as well,” she added. “We must look at water banking, underground storage and water conservation. I think this secretary understands we cannot continue to use water at the rate we do. ... We do have to apply some conservation principles.” 

Kimball, a former mining industry lobbyist who is based in Denver, said the department wants to cooperate with Western states in solving water problems.