We all use water extensively everyday for drinking, washing and water involved in the making of the products we consume. Most of the water used in society is in irrigated agriculture. As masters of the planet, we have a responsibility to ensure other species get their fair share of water too. We also want to ensure future generations are able to enjoy living among wildlife as we and previous generations have enjoyed.
Many in the water resources sector call this “environmental water”. Humans have built extensive dams and water distribution infrastructure, so as well as being able to provide water to ourselves for human needs, we can also provide water to the environment.
Environmental water is usually just water released from dams with the instruction to irrigators not to use it. This way the water makes its way to the environmentally protected areas untouched.
Along the way, the rivers will rise to their natural levels because water isn’t being taken out. This flushes the reed-beds and so on in the riparian environment with water. Plants and animals beside the river thrive with the additional water.
Lakes along the way become full and fish stocks that were depleted by humans recover. These wetlands provide a safe habitat for many birds and similar wildlife. Essentially we are restoring the environment back to it’s original state.
All of this can be achieved at minimal cost. All it requires is for irrigators to not take out any water that’s released from dams. This means dams need to store more water than that used for humans. If we want to live in a world where every species is respected and where future generations can observe the natural environment, this is a small price to pay.