The water crisis in America’s Southwest has come to a head for the first time in over a millennium. US cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas are among the cities facing a serious problem that affects 40 million people, and as the infamous pop duo Milli Vanilli put it, we might be tempted to “blame it on the rain.”
Perhaps instead, we should blame it on the lack of rain, among other things. The Colorado River had been supplying most of the water to the Southwest US probably since it was founded, and now the river is running dry. This particular water supply starts in the snowy Rocky Mountains and makes its way through to Mexico, supplying water to seven states in the process. Now it is almost a muddy trickle.
Could global warming be part of the problem with the water crisis in America? The last 14 years have seen the greatest drought in over a thousand years, and now the river is close to no longer running through the nation’s deserts as millions are using it faster than it can be replenished.
An increase in population is also part of the problem as more people are coming to the US than are leaving, and the demand for water is rising. Since 1950, there has been a 99 percent rise in population in the US.
PBS filmmaker Peter McBride explained the basics of the water crisis in America, saying the Colorado River “is a testament of what happens when we ask too much of a limited resource. It disappears.”
The solution could be to begin a water treatment source on the California coast, taking water straight from the Pacific Ocean from the state with the most shoreline facing it. Grabbing rain water from Western Washington could be another possibility, but either one could take years to finish.
Farmers are already seeing hard times, now attempting to level their fields with laser equipment to avoid runoff.
The water crisis in America could end up becoming a permanent shortage if something can’t be done soon, but that kind of planning and development won’t come cheap. We can probably expect the price of water in those states to rise to fund the cost of finding a new source.
For now, authorities are trying for a quick fix by restricting the flow from Lake Mead in Nevada. Currently at just over 1,000 feet above sea level, if the water sinks below the thousand foot mark, it will no longer reach the supply pipe and continue down the line.
It may be time to rethink our water usage before the water crisis in America becomes any worse.