Red River Basin Water Conservation for Residential, Municipal, Commercial, and Industrial Needs

The Red River of the North ("Red River") Basin is approximately 48,000 square miles (124,000 km2) in size and includes the U.S. states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. The Red River forms the boundary between Minnesota and North Dakota; roughly 20,000 mi2 (52,000 km2) of the basin is in North Dakota and 17,000 mi2 (44,000 km2) is in Minnesota. The basin is approximately 10,000 mi2 (30,000 km2) in Manitoba. The South Dakota portion of the basin is roughly 600 mi2 (1,500 km2). Figure ES-1 shows a map of the basin. Various water supply studies have indicated that water demand may equal or exceed supply in significant portions of the basin during drought conditions (MN DNR, 1987; IISD, 2005; USBR, 2007). This document discusses water conservation approaches and the potential to reduce demand for water as a means to improve the basin's resiliency and mitigate the impacts of drought. Wolff and Gleick (2002) proposed a "soft path" approach for water conservation. With soft path, water conservation involves supplying the same or comparable services with reduced water use. Inclusion of economic, social, and ecological sustainability in water planning is a critical component. This includes maintaining existing and future business vitality of a community, ensuring that all community residents have access to water, and important habitat needs are met. The goal of this report is to identify water conservation approaches that have the goal of maintaining the same level of residential and business services with reduced water use. While several communities are evaluated as representative of the basin, the report is not intended as a water conservation plan for any given community.
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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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