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!