El Paso is “drought resistant.” Climate change is pushing its limits.

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Although farmers rely on the Rio Grande for irrigation, most of the water that El Paso residents drink actually comes from deep aquifers Underground. These critical water sources are also at risk.

In 1979, the Texas Water Development Commission predicted that El Paso would run out of groundwater By 2031At that time, each resident used an average of more than 200 gallons of water per day. Most of the water is drawn from two aquifers in the city-Hueco Bolson in the east and Mesilla Bolson in the west.

Over the next two decades, the water company launched a campaign to encourage residents to reduce water use, including replacing lawns with native plants. Today, the average water consumption drops to 134 gallons per person per day.This is still higher than the national average in the U.S. 82 gallons But it is lower than the usage in other parts of the country where the climate is similarly dry, such as Arizona (145 gallons) and Utah (169 gallons).

As a result, the aquifer is in a better state-to some extent. “The water level is falling, but it won’t fall like a stone,” said Scott Reinert, resource manager at El Paso Water. Nevertheless, more water flows from the aquifer than returns.

El Paso Water draws 40,000 to 50,000 acre-feet of water from Hueco Bolson each year, replacing approximately 5,000 acre-feet each year. (An acre-feet is a clumsy unit of measurement used by water utilities-it has enough water to cover an acre of land, or a foot more than a football field.) There are also some natural recharges from other groundwater and rivers, but it may Not enough to keep up with the speed of pumping.

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