While dairy farms do need a lot of water, dairy farmers don't waste this precious resource. In fact, farmers can reuse a gallon of water at least four times, and in some cases they can reuse a gallon up to 18 times.

The most important need for water on a farm is to hydrate the cows, because a hydrated cow is a healthy cow, and a healthy cow is a happy cow. Milk is at least 87% water, so cows drink a lot of water -- around 35 gallons each day, which is basically a bathtub of water.

Courtesy U.S. Dairy

Water on a farm can also be used to sanitize milk trucks and cool the milk to keep it safe on its journey from farm to table. After used for cooling, that same water can clean stalls and barn before going to fields to irrigate the crops used to feed the cows.

“Reusing water is something that I’ve seen on a lot of dairy farms,” said Marissa Watson, vice president of sustainability for Dairy West, told the St. George News. “Harvesting water that’s relatively clean and having it ultimately end up on their crop fields so they can feed their animals. It not only improves the health of the animals but also allows us to use resources appropriately.”

In Idaho and particularly Utah, the ongoing drought makes water conservation a primary concern for farmers. Many farmers have water rights that determine how much water they can use, so reusing that allotted water is essential.

“Virtually all our water is recycled,” Kimball Holt said in that same St. George News article. “Not much is lost besides evaporation.”