Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Rings Around Southwest’s Deepening Drought: The Noose Around the Neck of the Region?

An interesting article at Modeshift examines further examples of the signs of a changing climate and an economy that has been slow to respond.  Focused primarily on the U.S. southwest, where supply constraints are affecting multiple state & local jurisdictions, the report also takes a look at the U.S. southeast and the longing eye with which some states are looking at the Great Lakes.  As the article notes:

“…Judging by the thickening white sashes of salt lining Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the largest reservoirs in the United States, the drought on the Colorado Plateau is not only deepening, it is pushing water supply conditions for roughly 25 million people from serious toward dire. The moment of reckoning over water supplies, anticipated since the 1960s, appears to have arrived.

Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and southern California form the fastest growing region in the country. All are served by the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and hundreds of smaller communities. Lake Powell, north of the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead, which lies just south, are less than half full and dropping steadily. Both are 105 feet lower than their full pools, and dropping about eight to ten feet a year.

…The Colorado Plateau states and California last month finished an agreement that provides both more flexibility and certainty in who has the right to what’s left in both reservoirs, and sets triggers for declaring emergencies that dramatically cut use. The Metropolitan Water District, southern California’s major water provider, announced in November that they will buy 65 billion gallons of water annually from Central Valley farmers north of Sacramento.

Orange County is preparing to turn on a new waste treatment plant that will pump “highly treated wastewater from their new purification plant to percolation ponds in Anaheim. Eventually, the recycled water will be delivered to about 2.3 million people.” And all the desert states are more intensely eyeing the Great Lakes.

…The other region of the United States where water demand is outrunning supply is the Southeast. There’s been more rain there this week; Nevertheless, for the first time in the lives of most of the 10-county Atlanta region’s 4 million residents, turning on the tap is an invitation to consider the limits of growth. The U.S. drought map continues to show that precipitation, soil moisture, and lake and river levels are in “extreme” dry condition.

…Water authorities in the Texas Panhandle late last month said they were cutting the water supply from Lake Meredith to 11 cities, including Amarillo, Plainview, Lubbock, and Brownfield. The reason, according to the Houston Chronicle: “brutal drought conditions in two of the past three years.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 at 9:30 am and is filed under Colorado River, Great Lakes, United States.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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