Lake Powell is the second largest reservoir in the US, providing water to 40 million people across seven states. Now, after 15 years of drought — the longest spell in 100 years — it is at only 45 percent of its capacity. Faced with these troubling statistics, The Swiim System — created in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture — is hoping to encourage more efficient use of agricultural resources, by enabling farmers to ‘lease’ out surplus water to others.
Swiim stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Movement. The system includes a software suite which enables farms to operate more efficiently, by suggesting the best cropping inventory and irrigation techniques for each field according to the farmer’s needs and land. Then, once the farmer has implemented the plan and verified their water reduction, they can supplement their revenue by leasing any saved water to neighboring farms via the water manager — usually a ditch company, irrigation district or farmers co-op.
The Swiim system is currently being implemented in Colorado, in part thanks to grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. It will soon be expanding to other problem areas of the US, such as California. Could regular citizens be encouraged to conserve water in a similar way?