will use less water; however, water prices have always been tied closely to political decisions and this is not likely to change in the near future. Incentives can help reduce per capita water use, as can tighter regulations and fines for excessive water use. There have been many studies and reports regarding what might be accomplished through nonstructural measures designed to conserve water (e.g., Gleick et al., 2005). Clearly, there are gains to be realized through aggressive water conservation measures. There is no formal basin-wide strategy or program designed to promote urban water conservation across all cities. There are, however, programs such as the California Urban Water Conservation Council that supports statewide urban water use programs, and other, similar efforts could lead to further water use efficiencies. But broadly speaking, none of the technological or strategic options for either increasing or conserving and extending water supplies examined in this chapter directly confronts the relationships between urban population growth, water demands, and limited water supplies in this arid region.
Technological and conservation options for augmenting or extending water supplies—although useful and necessary—in the long run will not constitute a panacea for coping with the reality that water supplies in the Colorado River basin are limited and that demand is inexorably rising.
Proper water management under normal climate and hydrologic conditions poses many challenges, and under drought conditions, such challenges are greatly magnified. This is an especially important concern given regional warming trends and long-term climate studies indicating that long-term droughts recur periodically across the Colorado River basin. Chapter 5 lists some important issues in adjusting to drought and identifies and discusses some of the key organizations and programs focused on improving drought preparedness in the Colorado River region.