Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas (WATA)

Posted on: 6/30/2023 - Updated on: 6/30/2023

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The Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas (WATA) compiles information about responses to water scarcity in the southwestern U.S., presented in the form of 130 case studies. Each case is pinned to a geographic location where the action takes place.

To get started, click on a case in the map or use the search or filter tools. The search bar will return results across all fields, while the filter is useful for finding a particular type of activity. Each case is tagged with categories – the first tag determines the display color, but secondary tags will also return results when using the filter.

As the effects of climate change coupled with economic and population growth put increasing strain on water resources in the Southwest, what can be done to adapt? WATA is a resource that helps provide answers to that question. Adaptation to aridity has always been a necessity in the Southwest and the current patterns of growth and development in the region would not have been possible without monumental adaptation. As changing conditions challenge the assumptions upon which the dams and canals of the past century were constructed, new efforts are taking shape at multiple scales to cope with water scarcity. WATA seeks to document these efforts, whether they are concerned with reducing water use, increasing water supply, or changing the way water flows through the landscape.

Solutions to water scarcity, however, are rarely straightforward success stories. Securing a new water supply for one region, for example, may deprive others of that same flow. Some solutions for creating new supplies – like large-scale desalination - come with high costs, both economic and environmental. Novel crops may be able to withstand hot, dry conditions better than those currently in vogue, but farmers might be hesitant to take on a risky investment. And when a solution is successful – and its harm or impact at other scales is minimized – it may not always be appropriate for different environmental or social conditions. Each case in WATA provides information about a given solution, as well information that will help users critically evaluate these practices.

Managing Organizations

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Our job is finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. Here are a few numbers to illustrate the scope of our organization:

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