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Drought hits the American West How will the state adapt?

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Greater Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. With a population of more than 2.2 million and more than 4 inches of rainfall in a good year.

About 90 percent of the water comes from Lake Mead. which is a reservoir in the Colorado River formed by the Hoover Dam which is currently 36% full of water

The drought continued until the Southern Nevada Provincial Waterworks Authority and other groups The region has spent the past 20 years preparing for a dry future.

“It’s not sneaking up on us,” Entsminger said. “Since 2002, our population has grown nearly 50 percent, or about 750,000, over the past 19 years. Our total depletion from the Colorado River is down 23 percent.”

The good news is that per capita water consumption has dropped by 40%. Indoor water is recycled in southern Nevada. The villagers will receive money to replace the grass with drip irrigation.

That’s one of many ways in the region to confront the 21st-century Colorado River with less water than it did a century ago.

A man fishes at the exit of a canal in Carson City on April 10 as Nevada enters a drought. The water line shows the water level is already low.Ty O’Neil/SOPA/LightRocket Images via Getty Images

Entsminger said the region needed to “It dramatically increases our conservation and rethinks how we use almost every gallon of water to support that kind of future development.”

This includes a new law that would declare more than 30 percent of grass illegal in southern Nevada.

“The future of the Colorado River in the 21st century is virtually less water-rich than we had in the 20th century,” he said, and will require cooperation between the United States and Mexico. That seven states and two nations can come together to find a way to get through the next few decades with less water than we thought.”

‘Bull’s Eye of Global Warming’

The grass ban didn’t help Westerners. Especially in places that are in the middle of the desert and where the population is growing, such as Phoenix.

Phoenix is ​​”the bull’s eye of global warming, heating and drying,” said Andrew Ross, professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. and author of a book about Arizona’s largest city called “Bird on Fire: Lessons from” The World’s Least Sustainable Cities.”

Before the Phoenix, Hohokam natives lived on this land for centuries. “They have a great irrigation network. And they have lived in the desert with their canal network for over 1,000 years,” Ross said, but severe drought forced them to abandon the area. The phoenix was built on the ruins of the city of the Hohocumites. and a canal system that brought water to Phoenix was built on the route first used by Hohokam.

“The allegory is built in the city,” Ross said. The test is whether history repeats itself.

An empty irrigation canal at a tree farm in Corrales, New Mexico, Feb. 17, with the Sandia Mountains in the background, much of the west mired in drought. New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada were the worst-hit states.Susan Montoya Brian / AP

Phoenix is ​​a city focused on growing single-family real estate developments, Ross said. “You can’t look to the long-term future of those developments without concluding that the challenges will only increase within the year. and with new subdivisions of low-density housing built,” Ross said.

When he wrote a book about Phoenix 10 years ago, he was described to Ross as a city of “People who build houses for people who are building houses.” The population of the metropolitan area is close to 5 million and is expected to increase by about 2 million in the next 30 years.

Utah is in a similar situation. The population has grown 18.4% over the past decade. making it the country’s fastest growing state. According to the latest census data

The state government recently allocated $280 million for water projects, with $100 million in conservation funds. Farmers who consume the most water in the state will no longer flood their fields to irrigate. But they are using more targeted irrigation methods and are less wasteful. Utah is so dry that state officials may ban fireworks altogether for fear of wildfires.

“I have asked all Utahn residents to conserve water by avoiding long baths. Fix a leaking faucet and plant a landscape with water But I am afraid those efforts alone will not be enough to protect us,” Gov. Spencer Cox said recently in a statement.

To adapt, cities will have to accept the drought. “It’s not a temporary state that we expect to be over. It is something we have to deal with,” said John Berggren, water policy adviser at Western Resource Advocates in Boulder, Colorado.

What does a sustainable Colorado River System look like? “We have a long way to go” to answer that question, Berggren said.

Panic time?

It’s even easy to imagine a catastrophic drought. But experts say the drought is really protracted. Want is the right response and willingness to adapt.

A report this spring from Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy said that “the perception that Arizona is the worst among western states is wrong.”

Irrigation agriculture uses 74 percent of the state’s water supply. But when the population increases Agricultural areas became neighboring areas. resulting in reduced water use

The report stated that “Sun terrace farming is facing a real crisis. But that doesn’t always mean there’s a shortage in the city.” “Certainly, the city dominating the Sun Corridor is named after the sporadic bird that devours itself. invites careful consideration.”

It’s not that Phoenix won’t have water in 20 years, but it sure does. The industry may need to rethink why Arizona. which is mostly desert It is one of the three states that produces vegetables on the market.

Berggren said it was time to start strategizing. It said states may have to pay farmers to plow land without sowing, temporarily to destroy weeds and maintain soil moisture.

“If pressured, they might have to go out and buy water rights from farmers. And those farms may have to come to a halt,” he said. And no one overlooks it as well. “We can have a thriving community. growing community Diverse communities in the west We just have to do it in a different way.”

The land belonging to the Navajo in Thoreau. New Mexico On June 6, 2019, rising temperatures related to global warming have worsened drought conditions on native lands over the past several decades.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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