Water Conservation

The bottom of Osprey Falls on the Gardner River.
The bottom of Osprey Falls on the Gardner River.

NPS/Herbert

The water that flows through Yellowstone National Park is a vital national resource. The park itself was designated to protect the unique geothermal and hydrological features within its boundaries. In addition, Yellowstone contains the headwaters of seven major rivers. Natural water systems are critical to the hydrothermal features and ecological processes protected in Yellowstone. With a changing climate, already drier and warmer throughout much of the Rocky Mountain West, it is critical that we conserve water and ensure that our facilities and operations have minimal impact on water resources.

As we strive for efficient water use, it is also imperative that we assess future demand and the impacts of structures and pavements on natural surface water systems. Currently, over 250 million gallons are used each year for hydrating, flushing, and washing in the park. Yellowstone plans to reduce overall potable water consumption through thoughtful planning and robust monitoring; updated facilities using water-smart technology and design; and helping visitors and park employees conserve water while travelling and at home.

 
 

2018 Sustainability Report on Water

As the Rocky Mountain West becomes warmer and drier with the progress of the effects of cli-mate change, it is important that Yellowstone minimizes water use and our impact on surrounding national water resources.

Yellowstone is known for its amazing hydrothermal and natural water features that host events unique to Yellowstone, and each year more than four million visitors come to experience these natural anomalies.

Currently, over 250 million gallons are used for hydrating, flushing, and washing each year. Continued education of our visitors and staff is important, but changing people’s habits is one of the toughest challenges of lessened water (and energy) use. Our plan to continue installing water-smart technology and design is the best way to keep our water use and impact down.

Even though we are using more water than the base year, 2018 did see a decrease (4.5%) in overall water use across the park compared to 2017. This shows we are on the right track, especially from the NPS side with a decrease of over 15% from 2017 to 2018. Continued vigilance in updating our water infrastructure should keep this trend going!

 
 
Water Use in Gallons
User 2007
(Baseline Year)
2016 2017 2018 2018 % Change from Baseline
NPS 158,337,935 152,277,550 163,515,310 138,302,549 -12.7%
Xanterra 104,683,900 125,766,345 125,786,584 137,491,944 +31.3%
Delaware North 8,192,000 8,382,000 9,737,500 9,665,100 +18.0%
YPSS -- 1,513,006 1,547,066 1,605,774 --
Medcor -- 108,952 101,217 244,926 --
Other (Northwestern Energy,
CenturyLink, USPS)
-- 1,508,000 415,696 259,749 --
Totals 271,213,835 289,555,853 301,103,373 287,570,042 --
 
2018 Water Use in Gallons by User by Location
Location NPS Xanterra Delaware
North
YPSS Medcor Other
(Northwestern
Energy,
CenturyLink,
USPS)
Total
Canyon 25,205,600 22,878,000 2,428,100 270,000 -- -- 50,781,700
Gardiner 269,800 6,875,900 -- 179,989 -- -- 7,307,689
Grant Village 16,165,969 11,749,000 1,120,000 229,000 -- 11,031 29,275,000
Lake, Fishing Bridge, and Bridge Bay 13,685,912 34,181,488 2,169,000 125,000 205,000 32,600 50,399,000
Mammoth 58,565,410 26,049,990 281,000 221,900 11,000 188,700 85,318,000
Madison Junction 2,033,192 2,160,611 -- -- -- -- 4,193,803
Norris 2,304,735 -- -- -- -- -- 2,304,735
Old Faithful 16,102,816 30,334,955 2,739,000 234,885 28,926 27,418 49,468,000
Tower (Fall Area and Roosevelt) 808,000 3,280,000 536,000 345,000 -- -- 4,969,000
West Yellowstone 301,000 -- 392,000 -- -- -- 693,000
Small Locations (Campgrounds, etc.) 2,860,115 -- -- -- -- -- 2,860,115
2018 Totals 138,302,549 137,491,944 9,665,100 1,605,774 244,926 259,749 287,570,042
 
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    Water flows over the Brink of Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellwostone

    Water

    Learn about the role of water in Yellowstone and beyond.

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    Hydrothermal Systems

    Yellowstone's hydrothermal systems are the visible expression of the immense Yellowstone volcano.

    Last updated: December 18, 2019

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    Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

    Phone:

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