The impacts of climate change have a wide range, from severe floods to crippling drought. Most prominently, our changing climate change has and will continue to cause extreme fluctuations in regional weather patterns. El Paso is not the first town in the States to experience these impacts, but the way they may be forced to respond will be unique.
The city of El Paso depends on the Rio Grande River as their main source of potable water. Due to increased temperatures and limited rainfall, the river is unable to provide the needed amount of water for the city. Due to this, El Paso is on its way to becoming the first large US city to directly reuse treated waste water. This means that the city’s sewer and waste water will be cleaned and immediately reintroduced back into people’s drinking water.
These extreme weather events are forcing the city of El Paso to search for water alternatives. And in this case, reusing sewage water is actually a safe and reasonable step. However, this measure does symbolize a growing trend in water resource shortages out west due to our changing climate. In many of these places, cities will have to search for innovative and novel approaches to meeting a growing population’s water needs in the midst of new climate challenges.