• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Photo courtesy Jacob W. Frank


    National Park ID,MT,WY


Two visitors stand on the shore of Yellowstone Lake
Two visitors explore the shoreline along Yellowstone Lake.

…sustaining our natural water systems

The Park's unique geothermal and hydrological features are one of the main reasons why Yellowstone became the world's first National Park. In addition Yellowstone is at the headwaters of the Yellowstone River itself an important natural resource contributing to major waterways like the Columbia and Missouri Rivers. Climate change is expected to cause drier conditions in the Rocky Mountain West. With a changing and drier climate it is critical that we conserve water and ensure that our facilities and operations have minimal impact on water resources. Yellowstone is working to reduce its use of potable water by inspiring behaviors to conserve water and using water smart technology, and integrating design changes that minimize impacts of park structures on natural water systems.


Goals and Objectives

Protect watersheds and preserve natural hydrological and geothermal systems

  • Develop a water source management plan to identify vulnerabilities and recommend mitigation for impacts to Yellowstone's natural hydrological and geothermal systems.(Action items due: 2013)
  • Minimize the impact of paved surfaces on natural resources through design techniques, like the reduction of paved surfaces, increased use of permeable pavement and materials that are recycled, bio based or inert. (Action items due: 2012)
  • Integrate best practices for storm water mitigation into construction projects and to prevent excess storm water runoff. (Action items due: 2012)
  • Identify opportunities for to reduce irrigated areas. (Action items due: 2016)

Decrease potable water use in Yellowstone.

  • Reduce the park's overall potable water consumption from a 2007 baseline. (Baseline year and percentage reductions consistent with EO 13423 and NPS Green Parks Plan). (Action items due: by 2016 - 20 percent; by 2020 - 30 percent )
  • Establish a water metering plan to measure water consumption, establish baseline water use and measure effects of water conservation strategies. (Action items due: 2013)
  • Conduct water infrastructure assessments to identify water loss. (Action items due: 2014)
  • Implement strategies and technologies to reduce potable water for facilities, operations and residences. (Action items due: Ongoing)
  • Develop a comprehensive program for landscape irrigation to minimize water use. (Action items due: by 2016 - 50 percent reduction)
  • Assess the feasibility of rainwater harvesting and gray water reuse for lawn and native plant irrigation. (Action items due: 2016)

Impress upon park employees and visitors the importance of water conservation to inspire them to conserve water in Yellowstone and at home

  • Share water conservation strategies and communicate water reduction projects and programs in Yellowstone with employees and visitors (Action items due: Ongoing)
    Provide water filling stations with messaging that promotes drinking of Yellowstone tap water and the environmental benefits of refilling water bottles. (Action items due: 2013)

Did You Know?