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Water Scarcity In The American Southwest

1618 words - 6 pages

The Colorado River resides in North America at 1,450 miles long it spans from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado flowing southwest through six other states into Mexico. During the 19th century, settlement within this region was limited to merely accessing the Colorado River. Back then adjacent water was strictly used to support life. Today, with our advanced water treatment and transportation methods, water is known for its more loose sense of sustaining “life” and that is of an economic sense. Now, we utilize water for more than just drinking. We apply water to trigger industry, mass produce agriculture, generate power and even recreationally. With our new thirsts we encounter dizzying demands for water. As we use this water for economic gains we take increasing amounts from the river. The water that is returned is then of severely lower quality causing detrimental effects to biologic life. To complicate the problem at hand the Colorado River has experienced drought since 1999. Currently, according to The Bureau of Reclamation, most areas of the river are experiencing extreme drought conditions. The Colorado River is not only degrading, but also drying up due to climate change and poor water management, consequently modern human development is impeded and the environment permanently scarred, therefore to prevent further damage local and state authorities should plan to alter wasteful methods of water management.

Poor water management is a key issue causing the de-vitalization of the Colorado River. Our current methods of managing water lead to wasted water through evaporation, leaks, over pumping and unnecessary use. Also any use we put to water degrades it and in most cases the water is sent back into the river at this reduced quality. This problem is pertinent to the rivers health because lately the river has been running dry. Elsewhere it is not running dry, but the water level is severely reduced and with so many contaminants that it results in endangered species. One thing we do best is diverting water from the Colorado’s natural flow.

Due to many assumptions and quick fixes we have imposed on the water on the Colorado River we may lose what has been called the great oasis of the West. First of all the 1922 Colorado River Compact and following additions to this River Law suggest that the rivers water should be split between the upper basin states and the lower basin states. The upper basin consists of Colorado, Utah Wyoming and New Mexico. The lower basin states are California, Arizona and Nevada. These Laws say that each basin will be able to extract 7.5 million acre-feet (maf) per year, which further allocations of water would be divided between states within each basin. Furthermore states that are reaching their allocations are fighting for more rights to water and Native American groups are fighting for water rights as well. Of course as the law was created this water shortage was not a problem fathomable by the basin states. Now...

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